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Sunlight exposure may lower prostate cancer risk

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By David Lu (davidl@foodconsumer.org)

A new review article in the Sept 15, 2009 issue of the International Journal of Cancer says that exposure to sunlight may help reduce risk of prostate cancer, a disease that strikes nearly 200,000 men in the United States.

There is no known means of preventing prostate cancer although lifestyle and dietary habits have been linked to the risk.

Previous studies have linked increased exposure to ultraviolet-radiation, which triggers production of vitamin D in the body, with reduced risk of prostate cancer. But studies are inconsistent.

The review analyzed 1,020 prostate specific antigen-detected cases and 5,044 matched population controls and found evidence to support the hypothesis that increased exposure to sunlight may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Gilbert R from the University of Bristol in Bristol, United Kingdom and colleagues found men with olive/brown skin, men who burnt rarely or never, and men with the lowest levels of intense sun exposure in the two years prior to diagnosis had their risk of prostate cancer increased by 47 percent, 11 percent and 24 percent respectively.

However, the researchers found those who spent less time outside were at a 51 percent reduced risk of advanced cancer and those who burnt rarely or never burnt had a 29 percent reduced risk.

They said "the meta-analysis provided weak evidence that men with the lowest (versus highest) sunlight exposure had an increased prostate cancer risk and higher advanced or fatal prostate cancer risk."

Vitamin D has been linked to reduced risk of 17 cancers. Evidence is abundant to suggest that exposure to sunlight helps cancer patients to fight the disease and have better odds of survival.

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