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A combination of vitamin D and calcium may significantly reduce a woman's risk of developing melanoma, according to a new study out of Stanford University. The findings suggest that individuals may benefit from vitamin D testing to see if they could use higher levels of the nutrient.
For the study, the team looked at medical data from a group of women who had previously been diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer. This version of the disease is far less deadly, but is known to increase a person's risk of developing the more dangerous melanoma skin cancer.
The results showed that individuals who were given 1,000 milligrams of calcium and 400 international units of vitamin D each day were 57 percent less likely to develop melanoma than women who were not given supplements.
The researchers said that previous investigations have found that vitamin D plays a role in regulating the process by which skin cells regenerate. This mechanism often malfunctions in individuals who develop skin cancer.
"In preventive medicine, we want to target people most at risk for the disease," said dermatologist Jean Tang, who led the study. "If you previously had a non-melanoma skin cancer, calcium plus vitamin D might reduce your risk of the more deadly melanoma."
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