Plan A is Prevention, not Vitamin D - Melissa Clements, MD - Oklahoma City
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Plan A is Prevention, not Vitamin D

Plan A is Prevention, not Vitamin D

The discovery of tiny pre-cancers on my lip two weeks ago has prompted treatment of the entire upper lip with a topical chemotherapeutic medication. To my horror what was thought to be two small, abutting lesions turns out to be eleven widely scattered actinic keratosis.

Translation: scaly legions that tend to turn into the most common form of skin cancer.

Not good! I’ve never been in a tanning booth. I am conscienous about daily sun protection.

My conclusion: no one is immune from all threats of life and noxious exposures.

Plaintive pleas to patients to get out of tanning beds and to protect their skin against the harmful effects of natural and artificial source of UV light go unheeded daily. Frequently patients counter my urging avoidance and protection with the legitimate concern of maintaining healthy vitamin D levels.

Adequate calcium and vitamin D intake along with regular exercise is important in the development of healthy bones in children and may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in adults. There is at best inconsistent and inconclusive evidence that vitamin D supplementation for other than bone health is valuable in the general population. The primary source of naturally occurring vitamin D is sunlight. Dietary supplements are widely available.

Unprotected exposure to UV rays from the sun or indoor tanning devices is a recognized risk factor for the development of skin cancer, including melanoma.  Both the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer have declared UV radiation from the sun and artificial sources (e.g. tanning beds and sun lamps) to be a known carcinogen.

UV rays from all sources can cause skin cancer.  Neither the American Academy of Dermatology nor the National Cancer Institute recommends getting vitamin D from sun exposure or indoor tanning.  It is far healthier and safer to get vitamin D and maintain vitamin D levels enjoying a vitamin D rich diet that includes such foods as fatty fish (e.g. tuna, salmon, mackerel), beef liver, egg yolks, fortified foods such as dairy, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals, and/or through vitamin D supplementation.

Ben Franklin was absolutely correct in saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Want to cheat me out of applying liquid nitrogen, prescribing topical chemotherapeutic compounds, employing photodynamic therapy or recommending scalpel surgery in my office or with a Mohs surgeon? Get out of tanning beds and protect yourself from the sun!