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Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer

But no such link was seen for women, researchers say

MONDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Men with jobs that expose them to high levels of sunlight are less likely to develop kidney cancer than those with little or no sunlight exposure at work, says a new study.

Previous research suggests that vitamin D, which is obtained from sun exposure and certain foods and supplements, may help prevent some cancers. Vitamin D is metabolized and most active within the kidneys.

This new study included 1,097 male and female kidney cancer patients and 1,476 healthy people in Europe who were interviewed about their work history and other demographic information.

Men with the highest levels of work-related exposure to sunlight were 24 percent to 38 percent less likely to have kidney cancer than other men. This association between job-related sunlight exposure and kidney cancer risk was not seen in women.

The study is published online March 8 in the journal Cancer.

The findings suggest that sunlight exposure may affect kidney cancer risk, but the reason for the difference between men and women is a mystery, said Sara Karami and colleagues at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. They offered some possible explanations: hormonal differences may influence how the body responds to sunlight; females may be more likely to use sunscreen; and men may be more likely to work shirtless outdoors.

The researchers said their findings "need to be replicated in other populations and in studies that use better estimates of long-term ultraviolet exposure and vitamin D intake."

More information

The American Urological Association has more about kidney cancer.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Cancer, news release, March 8, 2010

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