Vitamin D and melanoma

Ann Epidemiol. 2009 Jul;19(7):455-61. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2009.01.005. Epub 2009 Mar 17.


Purpose: Ultraviolet light from sunlight and other sources is the major environmental risk factor for melanoma of the skin. Humans also derive most of their vitamin D from exposure to sunlight. This article reviews current evidence that vitamin D might play a preventive role in the development of melanoma or affect tumor aggressiveness or melanoma patient outcomes.

Methods: Literature review.

Results: The vitamin D receptor has been identified in normal melanocytes as well as melanoma cell lines and primary tissue. A few studies have demonstrated relationships of functional polymorphisms in the vitamin D receptor with melanoma risk or tumor aggressiveness. Identifying an independent influence of vitamin D on melanoma risk is hampered by overwhelming confounding by the carcinogenic influence of ultraviolet radiation on skin melanocytes. Nonetheless an inverse association was suggested in a few studies with greater consumption of dairy foods or other dietary sources. Several lines of evidence are consistent with a potential influence for vitamin D on site-specific aggressiveness of skin melanomas, therapeutic response or patient survival.

Conclusion: Additional research is needed to determine whether vitamin D may have a preventive role in melanoma incidence or a salutary influence on melanoma patient outcome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*
  • Vitamins / administration & dosage
  • Vitamins / pharmacology*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D