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.