Italian researchers have found a link between vitamin D and the risk of developing a melanoma and they say that individuals with certain variants in a vitamin D-related gene, called BsmI, may be at an increased risk of developing melanoma.
Other research has established that vitamin D has a significant effect in protecting the body against cancer because it regulates cell growth, cell differentiation and cell death and this new research backs evidence which shows that sun exposure, which helps in the production of vitamin D, can have anticancer effects.
Vitamin D works by binding to a receptor located within cells and the researchers say because there are genetic differences in this vitamin D receptor among individuals, there is the suspicion that different people have different levels of vitamin D activity within their bodies.
The result is that some individuals may naturally be able to achieve more vitamin D-related protection against cancer than others.
Research to support this theory have been until now both conflicting and scant and no previous review of the available data had been ever performed.
In order to address this issue, Dr. Simone Mocellin and Dr. Donato Nitti examined the existing research investigating the association between common variants in the vitamin D receptor and the risk of melanoma and their analysis has revealed a significant association between melanoma risk and the BsmI gene.
The researchers say their findings support the hypothesis that sun exposure might have an anti-melanoma effect through activation of the vitamin D system, but say further investigation on the subject is needed.
The researchers say more research is needed to validate this link, and they have called called for larger studies to test whether any vitamin D receptor variant is independently associated with melanoma risk.
The study “Vitamin D Receptor Polymorphisms and the Risk of Cutaneous Melanoma: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, is published in the November 1, 2008 issue of CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.