Fun in the sun or tanning bed now may reduce the risk for malignant lymphoma, according to German research that probed the link between ultraviolet (UV) light exposure and the type of cancer formerly known as Hodgkin’s disease.
The study, published in the June issue of the International Journal of Cancer, examined the effect of lifetime exposure to different UV sources—including vacations, outdoor leisure activities, tanning beds and occupational exposure—in 710 patients with malignant lymphoma.
Dr. Thomas Weihkopf from Johannes-Gutenberg University and colleagues drew those patients from six regions of Germany and matched them with control cases selected from population registries, finding that those who regularly vacationed in sunny climates or used sunbeds had an inverse association with diagnosis of lymphoma.
“The results of the ‘fully adjusted’ regression analysis point to a possible independent protection against malignant lymphoma from vacations at sunny places and from the use of sunbeds,” Dr. Weihkopf and associates say. “Possible explanations for this protective effect lie in the stimulation of vitamin D production or in the modulation of T-cell immunology.”
In particular, both sunny locale vacationers and tanning bed users showed lower diagnosis of B-non-Hodgkin lymphoma; the former also had lower diagnosis rates of Hodgkin lymphoma while the latter was seen to have lesser rates of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma diagnosis.
Outdoor leisure and occupational activities were not significantly associated with lowering lymphoma diagnosis.
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in the lymphatic system, discovered in 1832 by Thomas Hodgkin and named after him. Because there are a variety of lymphoma types, it is now categorized as Hodgkin’s lymphoma and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (which accounts for all other types). According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, lymphomas account for about five percent of all cases of cancer in the United States each year.
Vitamin D is produced naturally by the body following exposure to sunlight. It also can be ingested through fortified products like milk, soy milk and cereal grains or found in wild salmon, Atlantic mackerel, shrimp and sardines. Compelling research has shown that vitamin D may reduce the risk of several medical conditions including osteoporosis, gum disease, diabetes, arthritis, multiple sclerosis and certain cancers.