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Lack of Adequate Sunlight May Up Risk of Pancreatic Cancer

Shortage of vitamin D may be to blame

THURSDAY, April 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- People who live in regions with low sunlight may have a higher risk of pancreatic cancer, possibly because they don't get enough vitamin D from the sun, new research suggests. The study appears online April 30 in the Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

"If you're living at a high latitude or in a place with a lot of heavy cloud cover, you can't make vitamin D most of the year, which results in a higher-than-normal risk of getting pancreatic cancer," study coauthor Cedric Garland, Dr.P.H., of the University of California, San Diego, Moores Cancer Center, said in a university news release. "People who live in sunny countries near the equator have only one-sixth of the age-adjusted incidence rate of pancreatic cancer as those who live far from it. The importance of sunlight deficiency strongly suggests -- but does not prove -- that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to risk of pancreatic cancer."

Garland and colleagues have previously linked higher vitamin D levels to lower levels of breast and colorectal cancer. Now, they're reporting a similar connection to pancreatic cancer.

The researchers reached their conclusions after reviewing information from more than 100 countries. They also adjusted their results to account for other risk factors, such as obesity, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

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