Researchers: Your Black Skin’s Reaction to Sunlight May Be Linked to Higher Cancer Rates

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Scientists are claiming that Vitamin D may help solve the puzzle of higher cancer rates in African Americans.  Black Americans are 25 percent more likely to die from cancer than whites, and there are a variety of factors that may play a role in this disparity.   But scientists believe that they’ve unearthed a huge discovery.

A study published inthe journal Dermato-Endocrinology says that the sun may actually be part of the reason for the gap in cancer rates.   The researchers believe that black skin can’t absorb the sunlight necessary to generate adequate amounts of vitamin D.  Vitamin D is known as “the sunshine vitamin.”   The body uses ultraviolet sun rays to generate vitamin D for various layers of the skin.

Vitamin D is needed to keep bones strong.  Deficiencies in vitamin D are believed to contribute to weak immune systems, cancer and other diseases.  The researchers make the bold claim that a vitamin D deficiency can explain the entire cancer gap between blacks and whites that is not explained by other factors, such as socioeconomic conditions.

Researcher Rick Kittles at The University of Chicago has determined that over 75 percent of African Americans suffer from deficiencies in vitamin D.  Kittles also said that African Americans living above the 37th parallel, north of Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina or central California, will have trouble getting enough sunlight to make vitamin D for their bodies.

Alan Peiris of East Tennessee State University and William Grant of the Sunlight, Nutrition and Health Research Center in San Francisco went to study whether or not the vitamin D disparity contributes to the high cancer rates.   The researchers admit that there is more work to be done, but a simple literature review leads them to conclude that low vitamin D is associated with each of the cancer types that present an unexplained health disparity between black and white Americans.

They specifically name these kinds of cancers: bladder, breast, colon, endometrial, lung, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, rectal, testicular, and vaginal cancer; Hodgkin’s lymphoma; and melanoma. Maybe you should go take your vitamins right now.