Vitamin D status and skin cancer risk independent of time outdoors: 11-year prospective study in an Australian community

J Invest Dermatol. 2013 Mar;133(3):637-641. doi: 10.1038/jid.2012.346. Epub 2012 Oct 18.


Vitamin D may have anti-skin cancer effects, but population-based evidence is lacking. We therefore assessed associations between vitamin D status and skin cancer risk in an Australian subtropical community. We analyzed prospective skin cancer incidence for 11 years following baseline assessment of serum 25(OH)-vitamin D in 1,191 adults (average age 54 years) and used multivariable logistic regression analysis to adjust risk estimates for age, sex, detailed assessments of usual time spent outdoors, phenotypic characteristics, and other possible confounders. Participants with serum 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations above 75 nmol l(-1) versus those below 75 nmol l(-1) more often developed basal cell carcinoma (odds ratio (OR)=1.51 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.10-2.07, P=0.01) and melanoma (OR=2.71 (95% CI: 0.98-7.48, P=0.05)). Squamous cell carcinoma incidence tended to be lower in persons with serum 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations above 75 nmol l(-1) compared with those below 75 nmol l(-1) (OR=0.67 (95% CI: 0.44-1.03, P=0.07)). Vitamin D status was not associated with skin cancer incidence when participants were classified as above or below 50 nmol l(-1) 25(OH)-vitamin D. Our findings do not indicate that the carcinogenicity of high sun exposure can be counteracted by high vitamin D status. High sun exposure is to be avoided as a means to achieve high vitamin D status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / blood
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / blood
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Melanoma / blood
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / blood
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D