According to the revelations of a study that used data from 172 countries, greater exposure to sunlight can lower your cancer risk.
After all that talk of staying away from the sun, here comes a study that supports spending some time soaking up the sun. Research suggests that people who live at higher latitudes, with less exposure to sunlight and a consequent lack of vitamin D, are at a greater risk of developing cancer, including leukemia–a type of blood cancer.
Post an analysis of the incidence rates of leukemia in 172 countries, the researchers found that people living in higher latitudes are at twice the risk of developing leukemia than those living in equatorial regions.
“These results suggest that much of the burden of leukemia worldwide is due to the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency we are experiencing in winter in populations distant from the equator,” said Cedric Garland, adjunct professor at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine in the US.
Countries close to the poles including Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Ireland, Canada and the United States are the ones with the highest rate of leukemia. However the opposite was true in the countries close to the equator like Bolivia, Samoa, Madagascar and Nigeria.
“People who live in areas with low solar ultraviolet B (UVB) exposure tend to have low levels of vitamin D metabolites in their blood. These low levels place them at high risk of certain cancers, including leukemia,” Garland added.
Vitamin D is produced abundantly in the body when ultraviolet radiation from sunlight strikes the skin and triggers synthesis.
The age-adjusted rates of incidence of leukemia in 172 countries were analysed from GLOBOCAN, an international agency for research on cancer, that is a part of the World Health Organization. The information was then compared with cloud cover data from the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project.
The study ultimately proved that low exposure to UVB radiation and lower vitamin D levels increased a person’s vulnerability to cancer.
The findings were published online, in the journal PLOS One.
According to Dr. (Col) Ranga Rao Rangaraju Director of Oncology Services and Sr. Consultant at the Department of Medical Oncology, Max Super Specialty Hospital in New Delhi, “Due to our modern lifestyle it has become very common for people to suffer with Vitamin D deficiency which is tied to several other ailments. Since vitamin D helps in repairing various tissues and building immunity, it has a major hand in cancer prevention. In this way, a deficiency of Vitamin D can be linked to an increased risk of cancer.”