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Could Sunlight Lower Your Odds for Pancreatic Cancer?
Date:6/19/2012

By Maureen Salamon
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Adding to already-conflicting data about sun exposure, vitamin D levels and cancer risk, new Australian research suggests that experiencing high levels of ultraviolet light and having sun-sensitive skin and a history of skin cancer each measurably lower the risk for developing deadly pancreatic cancer.

But U.S. cancer experts 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.

Comparing about 700 patients with pancreatic cancer from Queensland, Australia, to a roughly equal number of people from the general population, scientists led by Rachel Neale from the Queensland Institute of Medical Research found that participants born in areas with the highest levels of ultraviolet radiation had a 24 percent lower risk for pancreatic cancer than those born in areas of low UV radiation.

Those classified as having the most sun-sensitive skin had a 49 percent decreased risk of the malignancy compared to those with the least sun-sensitive skin, while participants with a history of skin cancer or other sun-related skin lesions had a 40 percent lower risk of pancreatic cancer than those with no reported skin lesions.

Dr. James D'Olimpio, director of palliative medicine/cancer pain and supportive oncology at Monter Cancer Center in Lake Success, N.Y., questions the findings. "This study is very innovative and I applaud the design, but translating it to what's really going on in pancreatic cancer is a stretch," he said. "The whole idea of UV exposure conferring protection . . . is counterintuitive. I looked at this study with interest but a high degree of skepticism."

The research is scheduled to be presented Tuesday at an American Association for Cancer Research conference at
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