Sunlight protects against pancreatic cancer

Sunlight protects against pancreatic cancer

We are constantly told how bad the sun is for you and how you must avoid something that the human genome has grown and evolved under for centuries.  It is quite bizarre when you think about it given our immune system and that of virtually every animal on the planet runs on vitamin D.  Where do we get vitamin D from?  Direct sunlight onto exposed skin.  The latest research tells us that those born in areas with more sunlight have up to 50% lower risk of pancreatic cancer.

Those who had more sun had less cancer
Rachel Neale, PhD, of the Queensland Institute of Medical Research in Brisbane, Australia and colleagues, used NASA’s Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer to match a level of UV radiation exposure to each person’s birth location.  They followed 704 patients with pancreatic cancer and 709 healthy people with no history of pancreatic cancer.  The researchers looked over birth location, skin cancer history, skin colour, race, skin cancer type, tanning ability, and propensity to sunburn. 

The results were fairly strong

  • Participants born in areas with the most sunlight had a 24% lower risk of pancreatic cancer
  • Participants with the most sun-sensitive skin had almost a 50% lower risk of pancreatic cancer 
  • Participants with a history of skin cancer had a 40% lower risk of pancreatic cancer

Experts are starting to question the “sun scare” advice…
Neale reported at the American Association for Cancer Research Pancreatic Cancer Conference in Lake Tahoe, Nevada and said to the press conference “There is a lot more work that needs to be done in this area, but certainly our work is supportive of ecological studies. The role of sunlight has quite serious public health implications. Currently there is a very strong emphasis on preventions, but maybe we need to modify that message somewhat to find an appropriate balance between preventing skin cancer but also not increasing the risk of other internal cancers”.

Study by Neale RE et al “Association between ambient ultraviolet radiation at birth, skin type, skin cancer history, and pancreatic cancer” as presented at the AACR Pancreatic Cancer Conference in 2012 and reported by MedPage Today on June 19, 2012.

Posted: Saturday 23 June 2012