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Benefits Of Vitamin A In Reducing Melanoma Risk

April 04, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 152

Promising findings on reducing melanoma risk have come from a new study that has found that one of the benefits of vitamin a supplements might be to offer protection against disfiguring, dangerous and sometimes deadly melanoma. Despite this, researchers are not suggesting you start taking vitamin A supplements, as this nutrient can be dangerous in high doses.

Vitamin A is found naturally in foods like carrots, eggs, milk, liver, spinach and sweet potatoes and plays a key role in our vision, bone health, reproduction, cell division and differentiation as well as helping to manage the immune system.

It's also known to help the skin and mucous membranes stay strong and keep out both bacteria and viruses. Surveys have found that most Americans get enough vitamin A in the diet, and deficiencies in this country are rare.

The researchers looking for a link between vitamin A and melanoma examined melanoma risk for 69,635 subjects who were 62 years old on average. After a period of six years, 566 had been diagnosed with melanoma.

For the 59,000 subjects who had never taken vitamin A supplements there were 506 melanomas, but for the 5,800 who were taking supplements and had used them regularly over the past decade, there were just 28 cases.

In fact, those who got additional vitamin A through supplements had almost a 40% less chance to be diagnosed with melanoma as those who didn't take such supplements.

The strange thing is, it was only the supplements that lowered the risk, not getting the nutrient from foods.

The reduced risk was more significant in women compared to men, and the protection was greatest in parts of the body that have frequent exposure to the rays of the sun. Women may benefit more than men because they are more susceptible to skin damage from UV radiation than men are.

The researchers are emphatic that the reduction in melanoma was associated with the supplements not the nutrient obtained from the diet. They know this because the protective benefits were only seen in those who were taking on board more vitamin A than can be found in commercially available multivitamin formulas.

And it was only the vitamin A, not carotenoids that brought the lower risk of melanoma. A carotenoid is a precursor (converted by the body as needed) to vitamin A - beta-carotene or lycopene may be names you know.

Other experts, not involved in the work, aren't surprised that vitamin A offers some protection against melanoma. The thing is, experts are quick to warn that the findings are preliminary and that excessive amounts vitamin A is a dangerous thing; it can bring serious risks such as birth defects, lower bone mineral density or liver toxicity, as well as troublesome symptoms like dry skin or hair loss.

The National Institutes of Health recommends a daily intake of 700 micrograms of vitamin A for women and 900 micrograms for men. Taking over 2,800 micrograms can lead to toxic symptoms.

Researchers speculate that supplements of this nutrient might have a place in high risk patients such as those who are fair skinned, have a history of sunburn or a lot of moles on their skin. For the rest of us, if you're concerned about skin cancer, be smart about the sun and supplement with a multivitamin that has the benefits of vitamin A as one of many nutrients. These people should also avoid the sun, use sun protection consistently and have an annual skin exam by a dermatologist.

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Source: EzineArticles
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