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Vitamin A Supplements Might Cut Melanoma Risk: Study
Date:3/1/2012

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 1 (HealthDay News) -- People who take vitamin A supplements might be cutting their risk of developing the deadly skin cancer melanoma, a new study suggests.

Supplements of a type of vitamin A called retinol could be a protective agent against melanoma; however, too much can result in serious side effects, researchers say.

"We found a protective effect from supplemental vitamin A, more than you would get from a multivitamin," said lead researcher Dr. Maryam Asgari, a dermatologist and investigator at Kaiser Permanente Northern California, in Oakland.

However, people should not be taking vitamin A in the hope it will reduce the risk of melanoma, she said.

"For us to really be able to recommend that, we would need a trial," Asgari said. "Based on these findings I wouldn't recommend that the average person start taking vitamin A to prevent melanoma; more data needs to be obtained to make this recommendation," she said.

The study appeared online March 1 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

For the study, Asgari's team collected data on almost 70,000 people participating in a study on vitamins and lifestyle in Washington state. After about five years of follow-up, 566 people had developed melanoma.

Taking vitamin A (retinol) supplements was associated with a 40 percent reduction in risk of developing melanoma, according to the study.

But while the study uncovered an association between retinol supplementation and melanoma risk, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

In addition, no relationship was seen between melanoma risk and vitamin A in the diet. Asgari also noted that the dietary data of those in the study was unreliable. And any beneficial effect appeared to be limited to retinol and not other forms of vitamin A called carotenoids, the study authors said.

Gender and sun exposure may also
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