While it’s clear that too much sun can increase the risk for skin cancer, a new study has found that too little vitamin D can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. The study is the first to link vitamin D deficiency with pancreatic cancer, Medical Daily reported.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine gathered data from 107 countries and found that those with the least amount of sunlight also had the highest rates of pancreatic cancer.
"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," Cedric F. Garland, adjunct professor in the department of family medicine and public health and member of UCSD Moores Cancer Center, said in a statement.
"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," Garland said, according to Medical Daily. "The importance of sunlight deficiency strongly suggests — but does not prove — that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to risk of pancreatic cancer."
Researchers also took into consideration other factors that may increase the risk of pancreatic cancer like alcohol consumption, obesity and smoking. Garland said that while the factors contributed to the risk, the strong correlation between cloud-cover and sunlight persisted even after they were considered.
Pancreatic cancer accounts for about 3 percent of all cancers in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society, and accounts for about 7 percent of cancer deaths. While early pancreactic cancers often do not cause any symptoms, by the time a patient begins experiencing them it has typically already grown through pancreas and spread beyond.