Don't sunbathe to avoid prostate cancer, take a pill instead

According to a recent study spending long periods in the sun may significantly reduce a man's risk of prostate cancer.

Apparently exposure to the sun encourages the body to produce vitamin D, which is known to inhibit the growth of prostate cells.

Researchers measured the skin tones of 426 men with advanced prostate cancer and 455 cancer-free men using an instrument called a reflectometer, they then compared unexposed underarm skin to sun-exposed skin on the forehead.

They found that the darker a man's skin pigmentation, a measure of his sun exposure, the less likely he was to have prostate cancer.

They also discovered that certain genetic variations in the body's vitamin D receptors played roles in the development of prostate cancer.

However Dr. Esther John, the lead author on the study, does not recommend sitting in the sun, which is just as well as most dermatologists believe that no amount of sun exposure is safe because of the risk of skin cancer.

She says that as the effects from supplements and sun exposure on vitamin D levels in the blood are equal, supplements would be a safer.

Despite the fact that it is known that vitamin D is an essential nutrient for other reasons, especially for bone health, as yet no one knows what level of the vitamin is effective in avoiding prostate cancer.

Dr. John, an epidemiologist at the Northern California Cancer Center says the findings need to be confirmed by other studies before specific recommendations can be given to the public regarding prostate cancer prevention.

The study is published in the June 15 issue of Cancer Research.

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