Pancreatic Cancer Risk Reduced By Sun Exposure: Study

Pancreatic cancer risk can be significantly lessened the more people get out into the sun, and perhaps as much as 50%, a new study claims on a preliminary basis.

In particular, the risk of getting pancreatic cancer was substantially affected by variables such as birthplace, sun sensitivity, and history of skin cancer, according to the study which was presented at the American Association for Cancer Research Pancreatic Cancer Conference in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Pancreatic cancer is one of most deadly forms of cancer with a very low rate of survival, often less than one year. About 40,000 cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed each year in the U.S.

The data in the study was gathered in Australia of some 700 patients diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and another cohort of about the same size made up of healthy people.

The findings, according to MedPageToday.com, revealed that…

Comparing the highest and lowest tertile of sun exposure, the investigators found that study participants in those born in areas with the most sunlight had a 24% lower risk of pancreatic cancer than the individuals who lived in areas with the least amount of sunlight…

The risk of pancreatic cancer spanned the spectrum of skin types. However, participants with the most sun-sensitive skin had almost a 50% lower risk of pancreatic cancer than those with the least sun sensitivity.

Sunshine may help protect against pancreatic cancer regardless of whether a person takes vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin.”

One of the study authors, Dr. Rachel Neale of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia, said that “Given the findings of studies examining circulating vitamin D, it is possible that if exposure to ultraviolet radiation does decrease the risk of pancreatic cancer, it is acting independently of vitamin D.”

She also underscored that the results are preliminary: “Understanding the potentially complex role of ultraviolet radiation in pancreatic cancer needs further study, as this may provide an avenue for preventive strategies.”

U.S. cancer experts, MSN HealthDay reports, “cautioned against making any lifestyle changes — including tanning or altering vitamin D intake — in response to the study, which is preliminary and does not prove these factors can prevent pancreatic cancer.”