Vitamin A supplements appear to reduce the risk of melanoma, but researchers aren’t yet recommending you add it to your vitamin regimen, reports WebMD.
A study analyzed the risk for melanoma among 69,635 participants. Those who took vitamin A supplements were about 40 percent less likely to develop melanoma, compared to those who did not take the supplements.
However, the researchers warned that it is too soon to recommend taking extra vitamin A to reduce the risk of melanoma. Vitamin A can be toxic in large doses; risks can include liver damage, hair loss and bone pain.
Vitamin A and Skin Cancer
The study, which appeared in Journal of Investigative Dermatology, found that only vitamin A supplements lowered the risk for melanoma, not vitamin A taken in through diet or multivitamins. In addition, the effects were more visible in women than men and in skin that was regularly exposed to the sun.
“It was definitely linked with supplements, not diet,” said study researcher Maryam Asgari, MD, MPH.
“People who are concerned about melanoma should avoid sun exposure, practice sun protection, and get annual skin checks,” Asgari said.
Dermatologist Heidi Waldorf, MD, agreed. “It is not surprising to me that vitamin A may be protective against melanoma,” she said. “However, high doses of vitamin A can have serious side effects, including liver toxicity.
“This may be an option for patients at high risk for melanoma because of prior diagnosis or family history, but not for the general population,” she said.
Vitamin A and Anti-Aging
While the researchers are not currently recommending taking a vitamin A supplement for skin cancer prevention, vitamin A already has a prominent role in anti-aging creams.
Tretinoin, the acid form of vitamin A, is a cream or gel that is used to treat acne as well fine wrinkles, dark spots and rough skin.
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