Can Skin Cancer Risk Be Reduced By Vitamin A?

Are you ready for the answer? Straight from the researcher’s findings and as published in JAMA Dermatology:

“We found an inverse association between intake of vitamin A and carotenoids and risk of cutaneous [squamous cell carcinoma], supporting the protective role of vitamin A against [squamous cell carcinoma] development. Our data further support the contention that supplemental and dietary vitamin A may be beneficial in preventing [squamous cell carcinoma].”

When written in medical terminology, it all sounds like mumbo-jumbo. Why can’t they just answer the question with a straightforward yes or no? Simple, because in a live species and constantly changing the world and environmental factors there’s a lot of things that need to be considered. Let’s take the first step to make it easy to understand.

What is Vitamin A?

It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for sustaining a variety of life processes within our body. It is crucial for skin health, reproductive health, and eye health. Although a variety of study has shown the benefits of vitamin A in keeping the skin supple and young, there is no direct evidence to support its ability to boost skin health.

When sourced from animals, vitamin A is known as retinol and is found in beef liver, turkey, chicken, and eggs. In vegetables, it is known as beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta carotene. Good plant sources of vitamin A are papaya, apricots, broccoli, pumpkin, butternut squash, kale, carrots, and sweet potatoes to name a few.

Vitamin A can also be consumed from supplements. For females, the maximum daily dose recommended is not more than 700mcg daily and for men no more than 900mcg a day.

The Link Between Skin Cancer and Vitamin A

In the US alone, there are 1 million new cases of skin cancer each year. And the most prevalent type is the squamous cell carcinoma, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Due to its frequency, healthcare practitioners are urged to find better ways to lower people’s risk of getting skin cancer.

The results were based on a study of 48,400 men with an average age of 54.3 years old and 75,170 women with a mean age of 50.4 years old. The study took 26 years and resulted in a total of 3,978 documented skin cancer within the study population.

Analysis of subsequent follow-up showed that individuals who had a higher vitamin A intake showed to have a decreased risk for acquiring squamous cell carcinoma or skin cancer.

Key Findings of the Study

  • Yes, the study found that individuals who had a high intake of vitamin A showed an equally lower risk for skin cancer, specifically the squamous cell carcinoma type.
  • Is the form or source of vitamin A in the diet important? Yes, the source of vitamin A matters. According to the study, in the population studied, those who got their vitamin A sources from whole food and most especially those sourced from vegetables have a lower risk for cell cancer. Thus, vitamin A sourced from vegetables are better than the ones sourced from animals. And vitamin A sourced from whole food trumps the ones from dietary supplements.

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