Aug 17, 2019 | Updated: 07:24 AM EDT

Pinning Vitamin A against Skin Cancer

Aug 10, 2019 08:15 AM EDT

(Photo : Heather Gill)

It has always been general knowledge that vitamin A plays an important role in the healthy growth and maturation of skin cells. A new study claims that higher vitamin A intake could lower the risk of skin cancer.

A new study from investigators at Brown University has revealed that binging on carrots and other sources of vitamin A could be one way to lower the risk for skin cancer. The scientists have pointed out that people with high levels of vitamin A included in their diets are seen with 17% reduction in risk of acquiring Squamous cell carcinoma, as revealed in the results of their studies, which were recently published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

According to the study, vitamin A has been lowering the risk for cutaneous Squamous cell carcinoma for people with fair skin even though the said condition is the second most common type of skin cancer.

Eunyoung Cho, Ph.D., an associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at Brown University, and an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital stated that their study is another driving factor to push people to consume more fruits and vegetables. Cho later added that skin cancer could be difficult to prevent but their study suggests that having a vitamin A-rich diet could be a way to reduce the risk for skin cancers such as squamous cell carcinoma. This is in addition to wearing sunscreen and reducing exposure to sunlight.

Following two previous papers, one with women participants and the other with men participants, there were around 123,000 participants with fair skin (thus having a significant risk of developing skin cancer). Other factors considered we're having no prior history of cancer and having completed the dietary reports for multiple times. Out of this set of participants, a total of 3,978 cases were found to have Squamous cell carcinoma verified within 24 to 26 years of follow up periods. The study did not account for avoiding the midday sun which was known to be a major risk factor for getting skin cancer.

For the study, the participants were grouped into five categories by the level of their vitamin A intake. The researchers then found out that people in the group with the highest average daily total intake of vitamin A are at 17% less likely to get skin cancer as compared to those with a lower daily intake of vitamin A. According to references, this is equivalent to a piece of medium-sized baked sweet potato or it could be two large-sized carrots per day. 

Still, the researchers have issued a warning that too much vitamin A could lead to nausea, increased risk of osteoporosis, liver toxicity, and hip fracture, especially if the said vitamin is taken from supplements and animal sources. The side effects, however, from high levels of plant-based vitamin A are at a minimal level, adding that eating high levels of other plant-based pigments, such as lycopene, is associated with a decreased risk of skin cancer.

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