Squamous cell carcinoma, a slow-growing cancer usually found on sun-exposed areas, is easy to treat if found early, although in rare cases it can spread to other tissues.
The researchers, writing in JAMA Dermatology, used detailed health and diet data from 123,570 men and women participating in two long-term studies. They found 3,978 cases of squamous cell cancer over more than 26 years of follow-up.
After controlling for various health factors, including age, other skin cancers and the number of lifetime blistering sunburns, they found that compared with the one-fifth of people with the lowest intake of vitamin A, those in the highest one-fifth had a 17 per cent reduced risk for squamous cell cancer.
The senior author, Eunyoung Cho, an associate professor of dermatology at Brown University, said that they had only diet information and did not know whether vitamin supplements would have the same effect.
Good sources of vitamin A include eggs, cod liver oil, fortified milk and breakfast cereals, kale, spinach, and orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like cantaloupe and sweet potatoes.
“This is a modest association,” she said. “But a lot of vitamin A comes from plant food. We encourage people to eat lots of fruits and vegetables, which can decrease the risk for other chronic diseases. And it can also help in reducing the risk of skin cancer.”
Source: The New York Times