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J Invest Dermatol. 2014 Nov;134(11):2806-2813. doi: 10.1038/jid.2014.223. Epub 2014 May 20.

Sun and ski holidays improve vitamin D status, but are associated with high levels of DNA damage.

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Department of Dermatological Research, University of Copenhagen, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address:
Department of Dermatological Research, University of Copenhagen, Bispebjerg Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona, Spain; CIBER Epidemiología y Salud Pública (CIBERESP), Madrid, Spain.
Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Karolinska Institute, Novum, Huddinge, Sweden.
St John's Institute of Dermatology, Guy's Hospital, King's College London, London, UK.
Unit of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria.


Skin cancer is caused by solar UVR, which is also essential for vitamin D production. DNA damage (thymine dimers: T-T dimers) and vitamin D (25(OH)D) synthesis are both initiated by solar UVB. We aimed to investigate the simultaneous adverse and beneficial effects of solar UVB exposure in holidaymakers. Sun-seekers and skiers (n=71) were observed over 6 days through on-site monitoring, personal diary entries, and recording of personal UVB exposure doses with electronic dosimeters. Urine and blood samples were analyzed for T-T dimers and 25(OH)D, respectively. The volunteers had a statistically significant increase in vitamin D. There were strong associations between UVB exposure and post-holiday levels of T-T dimers and vitamin D, as well as between post-holiday T-T dimers and vitamin D. We conclude that UVB-induced vitamin D synthesis is associated with considerable DNA damage in the skin. These data, on two major health predictors, provide a basis for further field studies that may result in better understanding of the risks and benefits of "real life" solar exposure. However, vitamin D status can be improved more safely through the use of vitamin D dietary supplements.

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