Vitamin D, vitamin A, the primary melanoma transcriptome and survival

Br J Dermatol. 2016 Oct;175 Suppl 2(Suppl Suppl 2):30-34. doi: 10.1111/bjd.14919.


Survival from melanoma is influenced by several, well-established clinical and histopathological factors, e.g. age, Breslow thickness and microscopic ulceration. We (the Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Leeds) have carried out research to better understand the biological basis for these observations. Preliminary results indicated a protective role for vitamin D in melanoma relapse and that higher vitamin D was associated with thinner primary melanomas. Funding from the British Skin Foundation enabled JNB to establish a study of the effects of vitamin A in melanoma. The results suggested that vitamin A could reduce the protective effect of vitamin D in terms of overall survival. Therefore, we propose that vitamin D3 supplementation alone might be preferable to combined multivitamin preparations, where vitamin D supplementation is deemed to be appropriate. Proving a causal link between vitamin D and melanoma-specific survival is challenging. We have shown limited evidence of causation in a Mendelian randomization experiment (described in more detail later). Recent work in Leeds has also shown that higher vitamin D may be protective for microscopic ulceration. Taken together, vitamin D appears to be associated with less aggressive primary melanomas and may itself influence outcome. We continue to explore the role of vitamin D in melanoma survival and the optimum levels that might be crucial.

Publication types

  • Review