Increased intake of dietary vitamin A decreases the risk of incident squamous cell carcinoma, according to a large, prospective study.
“We studied whether vitamin A intake is beneficial against SCC risk because there are few ways to prevent skin cancer,” corresponding author Eunyoung Cho, ScD, director of research in the Department of Dermatology at Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, told Healio Dermatology. “We found that vitamin A from both animal and plant-based sources were associated with reduced risk of SCC.”
A total of 3,978 cases of squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) were identified from the Nurses Health Study (NHS) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) over more than 26 years. Both studies documented self-reported dietary intake.
“The populations we studied were well-nourished with vitamin A,” Cho said.
Median daily dose of total vitamin A was 6,808 IU in the first quintile for women in the NHS and 7,236 IU for men in the HPFS. In the fifth quintile, median daily dose was 21,691 IU for women and 26,539 IU for men.
At baseline, older age and increased physical activity were associated with increased vitamin A intake.
Increased vitamin A intake was associated with SCC risk reduction as high as 17%. Higher intake of certain carotenoids and retinol were also found to reduce SCC risk.
Some carotenoids, which do not convert to vitamin A, such as lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, were associated with reduced risk of SCC” Cho said.
“Interestingly, most of the dietary vitamin A came from plant-based sources,” Cho said. “Because vitamin A comes from fruits and vegetables which have other health benefits, this may provide another reason to enjoy fruits and vegetables.” – by Eamon Dreisbach
Disclosures: Cho reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.