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Limited Sunlight Poses High Risk for Pancreatic Cancer

According to a new research, people who live in cloudy regions do not get enough vitamin D from the sun and may have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer.

A co-author of the study, Dr. Cedric Garland, who is an assistant professor with the San Diego School of Medicine’s Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, explained that people who live in regions where the weather is often cloudy do not get enough vitamin D due to the lack of sunlight. This results in a higher chance of getting pancreatic cancer.

Dr. Garland explained that, with the statistics adjusted for age, there are six times fewer cases of pancreatic cancer among people who live in places with lots of sun compared with people in cloudier areas. Therefore, the lack of sunlight suggests that the lack of vitamin D is a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. However, there is not yet evidence for this statement.

Vitamin D can be found in foods like cheese, fatty fish, egg yolks, juices and milk. Researchers believe that vitamin D provided by food is not enough and that sun exposure is necessary for the body so it can generate adequate amounts of vitamin D. Vitamin D synthesis starts when sunlight (ultraviolet rays) touches the skin.

Dr. Garland and his team came to this discovery after analyzing information from more than 100 countries. In addition, other cancer risk factors like smoking, alcohol and obesity were taken into account before the final results were published.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest cancers. The latest available statistics on this type of cancer show that it is the 4th leading cause of death linked to cancer in the United States. It has a higher mortality rate than all other cancers.

Further research is necessary to conclude whether vitamin D insufficiency linked to cloud cover definitely results in a higher risk of pancreatic cancer. Nevertheless, the studies show that ultraviolet energy is reduced by 50% in regions with complete cloud cover.

This research was first published in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Image source: Flickr.com

Jess

Jess

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