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Prev Med. 2012 Aug;55(2):146-50. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2012.05.011. Epub 2012 May 23.

Sun protection and vitamin D status in an Australian subtropical community.

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Cancer and Population Studies Group, Queensland Institute of Medical Research, Brisbane, Australia.



Claims have been made that sun protection may negatively affect vitamin D status, but very few data are available about whether this applies to people in uncontrolled settings.


In 1996 we measured 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations in 1113 adults in Nambour, a subtropical community, who reported their concurrent sun protection behaviours in a skin cancer prevention trial. Estimates were adjusted for time outdoors, vitamin D intake and other factors known to affect vitamin D status.


Persons who tended to stay in the shade had lower vitamin D levels than those who never stayed in the shade (62.5 vs. 68.8 nmol/L respectively, p=0.01), and this association remained in persons who spent less than 50% (p=0.02) but not in those who spent more than 50% of their time outdoors. Wearing a hat, long sleeves, sunglasses and use of sunscreen or umbrella were not associated with vitamin D status after adjustments, including after stratification by time outdoors.


Sun protection behaviour to reduce the risk of skin cancer can be maintained without affecting vitamin D serum status, although consistently seeking shade when spending less than 50% of daytime outdoors is associated with lower vitamin D levels.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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