Vitamin A protects against skin cancer

Vitamin A protects against skin cancer

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Higher vitamin A intakes reduce the risk of skin cancer

People who regularly consume a high level of vitamin A through food are less likely to develop skin cancer. An American research team found this in a long-term study. According to the researchers, the risk of skin cancer can be reduced by 17 percent.

Sea fish, liver, carrots, spinach broccoli, bell pepper, cherries or grapefruit are some examples of foods with a high vitamin A content. Researchers at Brown University in Providence have now found that such foods are suitable for protecting against skin cancer. According to the study team, people with a high intake of vitamin A in their diet are 17 percent less likely to develop skin cancer. The study was recently presented in the specialist journal "JAMA Dermatology".

Skin cancer diet

Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma is the second most common form of skin cancer in people with fair skin. Even though vitamin A is known to promote healthy skin, no clear effectiveness in reducing the risk of skin cancer has been found. The current study from Brown University now paints a clearer picture. "Our study is another reason to eat lots of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet," emphasizes research director Eunyoung Cho.

Vitamin A as additional protection against skin cancer

"Skin cancer, including squamous cell carcinoma, is difficult to prevent, but this study suggests that a healthy, vitamin A-rich diet can be one way to reduce risk," said the dermatology professor. Of course, other protective mechanisms against solar radiation must therefore not be reduced.

Course of the study

The research team around Cho examined the data of 121,700 women and 51,529 men from 1984 to 2012. All participants had to submit regular detailed reports on their diet. 123,000 participants had light skin and therefore an increased risk of skin cancer, but showed no signs of this at the start of the study. During the study period, 3,978 test subjects developed squamous cell carcinoma.

17 percent fewer skin cancer cases from vitamin A

Based on the nutritional data, the participants were divided into five categories depending on how much vitamin A they consumed. In the group with the highest vitamin A intake, there were 17 percent fewer cases of squamous cell carcinoma than in the group with the lowest intake. According to the researchers, for example, two large carrots a day are enough to get into the highest category.

Vegetarian vitamin A sources more suitable

Research director Cho considers vitamin A from vegetables and fruit to be more suitable than that from animal sources and that from food supplements. According to Cho, if the vitamin comes from animal origin or from supplements, there is a risk of nausea, liver damage, osteoporosis and hip fractures. "In contrast, the risk of side effects from a high content of vegetable vitamin A is minimal," says the professor.

Effect must still be proven by clinical study

In addition, the same effect was found for substances similar to vitamin A. With the so-called lycopene, which is increasingly present in tomatoes and watermelons, there was a comparable protective effect against skin cancer. However, since the study is an observational study, the causes and effects of these relationships were not explored. So it may be theoretical that other factors have also played a role. Therefore, the team around Cho now wants to conduct a clinical study to investigate the protective effect of vitamin A in more detail. (vb)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Graduate editor (FH) Volker Blasek


  • Jongwoo Kim / Min Kyung Park / Wen-Qing Li / et al .: Association of Vitamin A Intake With Cutaneous Squamous Cell Carcinoma Risk in the United States, JAMA Dermatology, 2019,
  • Brown University: Higher vitamin A intake linked to lower skin cancer risk (accessed: 01.08.2019),

Video: Drs. Rx: Can Adding Vitamin A Decrease Your Skin Cancer Risk by 15 Percent? (November 2022).