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19-05-2011 | Article

Calcium and vitamin D fail to reduce melanoma risk


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MedWire News: Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements does not reduce the incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer in women, preliminary study findings show.

The results, presented in a poster session at the annual meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology in Phoenix, Arizona, USA, did show, however, that taking such supplements reduces the risk for melanoma by 57% in women with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer.

"At this time, we cannot recommend the use of vitamin D and calcium supplements at the doses studied for the prevention of these forms of skin cancer," Teresa Fu, from Stanford University in California, USA, concluded.

The team assessed the risk for nonmelanoma skin cancer in 36,282 women who were randomly assigned to receive 1000 mg of calcium and 400 IU of vitamin D daily for 7 years or dummy supplements.

The results indicated that there was no benefit on the risk for either nonmelanoma skin cancer or melanoma in the women taking the daily calcium and vitamin D supplements compared with the dummy supplements.

The results remained the same after taking into account age, body mass index, and total vitamin D intake.

The only women who did benefit from calcium and vitamin D supplements were those with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, for whom the risk for melanoma decreased by 57% compared with women with the same history taking dummy supplements.

Although these findings contradict those of previous studies, the researchers note that their study involved a large, well-characterized patient population, along with long-term follow-up.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lucy Piper