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Sun exposure prevents prostate cancer

STAFFORDSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM. British researchers have confirmed that exposure to sunlight helps prevent prostate cancer. Their study involved 210 men diagnosed with prostate cancer and 155 men with an enlarged prostate, but no prostate cancer (controls). The men were interviewed in order to estimate their lifetime sun exposure. Men with the lowest exposure were found to have a three times greater incidence of prostate cancer than did men with a high lifetime exposure. Sunburns in childhood were found to be particularly protective with men having had one or more childhood sunburns being six times less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who had not experienced childhood sunburns.

A history of regular foreign holidays, presumably in sunnier climes, also had a protective effect with men having had such holidays having a 60 per cent lower risk of prostate cancer. Regular sun bathing was also found to be protective. The risk of prostate cancer was not associated with skin type, hair colour or eye colour, and the associations with sun exposure were not affected by including occupation, vasectomy or dietary factors in the analysis.

The researchers are not sure why sun exposure is protective, but speculate that vitamin D and parathyroid hormone may somehow be involved. Editor's Note: Excessive sun exposure has been linked to an increased risk of certain non-melanoma skin cancers. These cancers, however, are rarely fatal whereas prostate cancer often is. So on balance, cultivating a healthy suntan is still a good idea.
Luscombe, Christopher J., et al. Exposure to ultraviolet radiation: association with susceptibility and age at presentation with prostate cancer. The Lancet, Vol. 358, August 25, 2001, pp. 641-42 (research letter)

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