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Pancreatic cancer 30 percent less likely in Australians who got lots of UVB (vitamin D) – Dec 2013

Association between ultraviolet radiation, skin sun sensitivity and risk of pancreatic cancer.

Cancer Epidemiol. 2013 Dec;37(6):886-92. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2013.08.013. Epub 2013 Sep 26.
Tran B1, Whiteman DC, Webb PM, Fritschi L, Fawcett J, Risch HA, Lucas R, Pandeya N, Schulte A, Neale RE; Queensland Pancreatic Cancer Study Group.
1Population Health Division, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia; Centre for Research Excellence in Sun and Health, Australia. Electronic address: b.tran at uws.edu.au.

Ecological studies showing an inverse association between pancreatic cancer incidence and mortality and levels of ultraviolet radiation (UVR), suggest that higher levels of sun exposure may reduce risks of pancreatic cancer but there has been only one individual-level study that examined this issue. We aimed to examine the association between pancreatic cancer and markers of exposure to solar UVR, namely skin type, treatment of skin lesions, ambient UVR and time outdoors on work days.

We used data from an Australian case-control study. Location at birth, residential location during adulthood, outdoors work, history of skin lesion treatment and sensitivity of the skin to the sun were obtained by questionnaire. We limited the analyses to Caucasians who answered the questionnaire about UVR (controls=589/711 recruited; cases=496/705 recruited). We used NASA's Total Ozone Mapping Spectrometer to estimate ambient UVR.


  • Being born in or living in areas of higher ambient UVR (compared to lower ambient UVR) was associated with about 30-40% lower risk of pancreatic cancer.
  • People with fair skin colour had 47% lower risk of pancreatic cancer than those with dark skin colour (95% CI 0.37-0.75).
  • There was some suggestion of increased risk with increased average number of hours spent outside at work.

This study suggests that people with light skin colour or those born or living in areas of high ambient UVR have lower risk of pancreatic cancer. Our analysis supports an association between UVR and pancreatic cancer, possibly mediated through production of vitamin D.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS: 25(OH)D; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; CI; History of skin cancer; OR; Pancreatic cancer; Skin colour; Skin type; UVR; Ultraviolet radiation; confidence interval; odds ratio; ultraviolet radiation

PMID: 24075798

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