A DAILY vitamin pill could help prevent skin cancer, scientists have revealed.
Experts have found that taking essential food supplements packed with potent vitamin A every day can make people less likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of the disease.
Over the past 30 years, rates of malignant melanoma have quadrupled.
American scientists found that retinol, one of the main components of vitamin A, could protect against the disease.
A team from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research looked at the vitamin A intake of 70,000 men and women.
They found no association between dietary intake of vitamin A – found in animal foods such as liver, eggs and milk – and a reduction in risk.
There was no reduced risk seen by the intake of carotenoids, the colourful plant pigments in vegetables including carrots and tomatoes which the body can turn into vitamin A. But they did discover that retinol had a protective effect against the disease.
The strongest protective effects were found in women and in sun-exposed sites, suggesting that retinol combats skin cancer.
In this latest research – published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology – dermatologist Dr Maryam Asgari said: “Our data suggests a possible interaction between supplemental retinol use and the anatomic site of melanoma, with sun-exposed sites showing a stronger protective effect than sun-protected sites.”
But Dr Claire Knight, of Cancer Research UK, said: “We don’t recommend people start taking retinol supplements based on this study, as high doses can be toxic.”
More than 11,700 Britons a year are diagnosed with skin cancer and 2,070 die as a result.