I’m sure you’ve heard it said about a million times by now: The best way to avoid skin cancer is to stay out of the sun -- and don’t forget to slather on the sunscreen when you do dare to step outside.
But no matter how many times you hear it, it’s still not true.
Simply put, you don’t have to live like a vampire to avoid the deadliest form of skin cancer. In fact, the latest research shows that the best way to slash your melanoma risk has nothing to do with the sun at all.
It’s a simple vitamin -- and you might want to go check the label of your multi right now.
If the form of vitamin A used in yours is retinol, you’re golden -- because a new study finds that people who get this form of A have a 60 percent lower risk of melanoma. And those who got the most A of all -- 1,200 mcg a day -- were 74 percent less likely to suffer melanoma, according to the study in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
The "catch" here is that vitamin A from food -- like liver (calf or chicken), kale, spinach or carrots -- didn’t make a bit of difference. The vitamin A precursors such as beta-carotene and lycopene used in many multivitamins didn’t make the cut either.
Only the retinol form of A, and only from supplements -- or what the drug industry refers to as "the ‘s’ word" -- did the trick.
The new study might fly in the face of what the mainstream has been saying about lowering your melanoma risk, but the research has shown for years now that the sun isn’t the real cause of most of these cancers.
And one of the biggest risk factors of all might be completely out of your control: genetics.
In other words, blame your ancestors -- not the sun. And if you have a history of the disease in your family, you might want to make an A supplement your top priority.
Just don’t overdo it, since it’s possible to get too much of a good thing-- and too much vitamin A can cause liver damage, hair loss, and skin conditions.
The level used in the study (1,200 mcg a day) is more than what’s recommended by federal guidelines, but perfectly safe for most people.