Vitamin A May Reduce the Risk of Melanoma

New Study Refutes Claims about Retinyl Palmitate's Safety

Can high oral doses of vitamin A reduce melanoma risk? A 2012 study suggests it can, contradicting recent speculation that retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A commonly added to sunscreens and low-fat dairy products, increases users’ risk of skin cancer when exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. More than two million people will be diagnosed with skin cancer in the US in 2012. 

The researchers followed 69,635 adults in the VITAL (VITamins And Lifestyle) study for nearly six years, and found that subjects who took more than 1,200 μg (micrograms, or millionths of a gram) a day of a form of vitamin A called retinol were 74 percent less likely to develop
melanoma than those who did not take supplements. The finding reinforces The Skin Cancer Foundation’s stance on retinyl palmitate’s safety. “Retinoids (topical vitamin A products similar to retinyl palmitate) are commonly prescribed by dermatologists, and no published data suggest that topical retinoids increase skin cancer risk,” said Warwick L. Morison, MD, MB, and Steven Q. Wang, MD, members of The Skin Cancer Foundation’s independent Photobiology Committee. “Oral retinoids are often prescribed to help prevent skin cancers in people at high risk of the disease!” 

Vitamin A plays an important role in healthy vision, cell growth and immune system functioning, according to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements. The Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board recommends 625 micrograms a day for men ages 19 and up and 500 micrograms for women ages 19 and up who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are interested in adding vitamin A — or any other supplement — to your daily regimen, be sure to speak to your doctor first.

Published on October 9, 2012