MONDAY, Sept. 22, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A possible link between melanoma and a gene involved in vitamin D metabolism has been identified by Italian researchers.
They examined existing scientific literature on the association between melanoma (the most serious type of skin cancer) and common variants of the vitamin D receptor gene Bsml, and concluded that people with certain variants of the gene may be at increased risk for melanoma.
The University of Padova team said more research is needed to confirm this link between the gene variants and melanoma.
"These findings prompt further investigation on this subject and indirectly support the hypothesis that sun exposure might have an anti-melanoma effect through activation of the vitamin D system," the researchers wrote.
The study was published in the Nov. 1 issue of Cancer.
Previous research has shown that vitamin D has significant protective effects against the development of cancer, because it regulates cells growth, cell differentiation and cell death. There's also evidence that sun exposure, which triggers the body to produce vitamin D, can have anti-cancer effects, according to background information in a Cancer news release about the study.
Vitamin D works by binding to a receptor in cells. Genetic differences in the vitamin D receptor gene Bsml mean that people may have different levels of vitamin D in their bodies, which means some may have more vitamin D-related protection against cancer than others, according to the study.
The National Cancer Institute has more about melanoma.