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Study finds high prevalence of vitamin-D deficiency among skin cancer patients

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A new Stanford study has found that skin cancer patients who avoid the sun are three times more likely to be vitamin-D deficient than healthy people. The concern? People with vitamin-D deficiency have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disease, some cancers and other health problems. From our release:

Jean Tang, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology, said physicians need to strike the right balance in helping their skin cancer patients avoid sunlight - the primary way in which vitamin D is produced by the body - while finding other ways to maintain their vitamin D levels.

“There is a chance that we are inadvertently putting some of our patients at risk for vitamin-D deficiency because they’re avoiding sunlight, they’re putting on sunscreen, they’re staying in the shade,” said Tang, who is the principal investigator of the study [which is] published in the October issue of Archives of Dermatology. “Basal cell skin cancers, the most common type of cancer in the United States, are generally not lethal. So it’s important for patients to look after their overall health.”

Dietary supplements might be a good option for some patients. As noted in the release, supplements made from oily fish or sun-exposed sheep’s wool provides the same type of vitamin D as sun exposure.

Related: Vitamin D levels associated with increased disability, brain atrophy in MS patients and What's the deal with vitamin D?
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