Vitamin D Level and Basal Cell Carcinoma, Squamous Cell Carcinoma, and Melanoma Risk

This is a great review of a complex topic. Let me know if you want a copy of the article.



Various associations between serum vitamin D levels and skin cancer have been reported. In this issue, van der Pols et al. observed that baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels above 75 nmol/L were associated with an increased incidence of basal cell carcinoma and melanoma, and a nonstatistically significant decreased incidence of squamous cell carcinoma. Complex factors including sun exposure, skin phototype, and anticarcinogenic and procarcinogenic effects of vitamin D are potential causes of the observed associations.


Journal of Investigative Dermatology (2013) 133, 589–592. doi:10.1038/jid.2012.427

  1. #1 by Keith van den Heever on February 18, 2013 - 2:16 am

    Hi Ian,

    I wasn’t aware that Vit D was procarcinogenic and anticarcinogenic. Any idea where to get more info on this,please ?

    Kind regards,


  2. #2 by hein on February 18, 2013 - 9:06 am

    Thank you, Ian.

    Of course the parallel between BCC and melanoma incidence has been known for a while, and can be explained by XS or rather inappropriate sun exposure. Too much [not in the elderly as the skin no longer makes vitD] and you increase your risk. Too little and ditto, you don’t develop the DNA repair mechanism in which D has been postulated to play a role. As to SCC, low level [i.e. vitD generating] exposure has been known for some time to actually decrease its incidence. No idea why, but it may well be the anticarcinogenic effect of vitD.

    It is in the general news again today, a woman claiming she developed ca breast because her vitD levels were too low.

    This is a nightmare for clinicians, as we have to unstitch a lot of good skin ca prevention work, or rather, re-stitch it depending on how the non-specialised press runs with it.

    I reckon play it safe. We get enough incidental UV exposure to develop the DNA repair mechanism [unlike the Scandinavians, e.g. – and have a look at their incidence/risk per hour UV exposure cfr to ours], so not too worried about having a low vitD level: I take 1,000 IU every day [esp after my own multiBCC and invasive MM scares due to very excessive exposure as a sailor].

    Of course, I’ve just bought a boat again, but thankfully most of the year is coolish here so I have just today bought a full length [arms and sleeves] 50+ blockout Lycra suit – and some new Dunlop Volleys – the latter at 28 bucks far superior to 360 dollar Dubarry’s…. Sorry, neither skin ca nor vitD related……

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