There were two interesting studies out in the past several weeks regarding women and the risk of Melanoma, both of which were reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology and are sort of “the good news and the not quite as good, but interesting, news.*”
First, as stated by MedPage Today,
“If you have to have malignant melanoma, be a woman – your chances are better.”
While it’s considered preliminary data, the article share that “women exhibited a consistent independent advantage in melanoma progression, metastasis, and survival across all stages which was independent of hormonal status.”
That means the results were the same, regardless of age. The challenge is that we still don’t know WHY women survive melanoma or it progresses less quickly than in men. Even the speculation that it was behavioral was ruled out — such as men avoiding the doctor more than women — and is seen as something biological. But what?:
It’s…not an obvious effect of changes in hormone levels driven by menopause. Women 45 or younger had similar rates of progression-free survival as women 64 and older. But there could be other hormonal factors, differences in vitamin D metabolism, or variation by sex in how people handle reactive oxygen species and oxidative stress, [Arjen Joosse, MD, of Erasmus University Medical center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands] speculated.
Even such a factor as obesity might play a role, since adipose tissue releases hormones, he said.
Indeed, the key question is no longer if the observation is true, but what’s causing it,
Vitamin D supplementation at a relatively low dose plus calcium did not reduce the overall incidence of NMSC or melanoma. However, in women with history of NMSC, CaD supplementation reduced melanoma risk, suggesting a potential role for calcium and vitamin D supplements in this high-risk group. Results from this post hoc subgroup analysis should be interpreted with caution but warrant additional investigation.
That leads us to the next report that just came out, and as reported by MedScape Today:
Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation did not reduce the overall incidence of nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) or melanoma in postmenopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI), researchers say.
However, the placebo-controlled study found that, in women with history of NMSC, calcium plus vitamin D supplementation reduced subsequent melanoma risk, suggesting a potential role for the supplements in this high-risk subgroup, said the authors, led by Jean Tang, MD, PhD, from Stanford University in California.
So, while we don’t know why women do better in battling melanoma, and we know that Calcium and Vitamin D seem to be ruled out as a factor in preventing the disease, there DOES seem to be some evidence that the supplements may hold melanoma at bay a bit in women who have had NON-melanoma skin cancers before.
The takeaway continues to be, as with our other posts on studies and treatment news, that we are continuing to gain ground and promising results are coming in. But, we must continue the research and continue down the path a ways to reach a cure.
*Please remember, we share information on Melanoma Updates that we found interesting, inspirational, or thought-provoking. Any science or clinical study news you read here or elsewhere should be reviewed with your doctor.