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Archive - May 2, 2015

Low Sunlight (Implicating Vitamin D Deficiency) Linked to Higher Risk of Pancreatic Cancer in 172-Country Study

In an article published online on April 9, 2015 in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, researchers at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) School of Medicine report that pancreatic cancer rates are highest in countries with the least amount of sunlight. Low sunlight levels were due to a combination of heavy cloud cover and high latitude. The article is titled “Cloud Cover-Adjusted Ultraviolet B Irradiance and Pancreatic Cancer Incidence in 172 Countries.” "If you're living at a high latitude or in a place with a lot of heavy cloud cover, you can't make vitamin D most of the year, which results in a higher-than-normal risk of getting pancreatic cancer," said first author Cedric F. Garland, DPH, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Public Health and member of UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center. "People who live in sunny countries near the equator have only one-sixth of the age-adjusted incidence rate of pancreatic cancer as those who live far from it. The importance of sunlight deficiency strongly suggests - but does not prove - that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to risk of pancreatic cancer." Limited foods naturally contain vitamin D. Fatty fish, such as salmon and tuna, are good sources; beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks provide small amounts. Vitamin D is often added as a fortifying nutrient to milk, cereals, and juices, but experts say most people also require additional vitamin D to be produce by the body when skin is directly exposed to sunlight, specifically, ultraviolet B radiation. Skin exposed to sunshine indoors through a window will not produce vitamin D. Cloudy skies, shade, and dark-colored skin also reduce vitamin D production. The UC San Diego team, led by Dr. Garland and Edward D.