Pop a vitamin pill daily `to prevent skin cancer`

Updated: Mar 02, 2012, 12:18 PM IST

London: Want to stave off skin cancer? Pop a vitamin pill daily, recommend researchers.
A new study has found that taking essential food supplements packed with vitamin A everyday could make people, particularly women, less vulnerable to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

The researchers have, in fact, that found retinol – a key component of vitamin A -- protects against the disease; the strongest protective effects are found in women, the
`Daily Mail` reported.

However, there is no such link between dietary intake of vitamin A, found in carrots, eggs and milk, and reduced risk of skin cancer, claims the study. For their study, the researchers at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research analysed some 70,000 men and women who consumed vitamin A through either dietary or
supplementary methods.

The findings revealed those who used retinol regularly were 60 per cent less likely to develop skin cancer, rising to 74 per cent among participants on the highest doses of more than 1,200 mg a day.

But, there was no association between dietary intake of vitamin A, found in liver, eggs and milk, and a reduction in risk, say the researchers.

There was also no reduced risk seen by the intake of carotenoids, which are abundant in vegetables including carrots and tomatoes and soak up compounds that can damage
the skin, according to the researchers.

Dr Maryam Asgari, who led the study, said: "Our data suggest a possible interaction between supplemental retinol use and the anatomic site of melanoma, with sun-exposed sites showing a stronger protective effect than sun-protected sites.

"It may be that retinol`s effects may be mediated by sunlight exposure. This intriguing possibility warrants further exploration in future studies."

However, experts say they are not fully convinced with the findings published in the `Journal of Investigative Dermatology`.

Dr Claire Knight, senior health information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: "We don`t recommend people start taking retinol supplements based on this study, particularly
as high doses can be toxic.

"The result was based on a very small number of people with melanoma, and the authors didn`t account for other important factors that influence the risk of skin cancer, such
as the number of moles a person has."