Researchers from Yale Cancer Center have warned that unprotected sun exposure is not a feasible way to reduce breast cancer risk.
A recent study evaluated the cases of breast cancer in 107 countries, reports Science Daily.
Researchers found that higher levels of serum Vitamin D and living closer to the equator correlated with a lower incidence of breast cancer.
However, they warned that increasing sun exposure is not the way to decrease breast cancer risk.
"While ultraviolet B radiation from the sun is the primary source of vitamin D in our body, unprotected sun exposure is not a recommended way to reduce a person's risk of developing breast cancer," said David J. Leffell, M.D., Yale Cancer Center member and Professor and Section Chief of Dermatologic Surgery at Yale School of Medicine.
He noted that UV radiation is an undisputed carcinogen responsible for most of the estimated 1.5 million skin cancers that occur annually in the United States.
"We are alarmed by the potential consequences of this study and urge women to continue to follow a careful sun protection program including the use of UV-blocking sunscreens. Women should absolutely avoid tanning salons," Leffell said.
According to the experts, while this particular study showed that countries closer to the equator have lower incidence of breast cancer, many factors in addition to sunlight exposure vary across these countries.
"The link between vitamin D and breast cancer is not clearly known at this time. One recent U.S. study actually measured blood vitamin D levels in individual women and found that women with higher blood vitamin D levels did not have significantly lower risk of subsequent breast cancer," explained Susan Mayne, Director of Population Sciences at Yale Cancer Center and Professor of Epidemiology at Yale Schools of Medicine and Public Health.
"Because the data are not consistent at this time, women who wish to reduce their risk of breast cancer should focus on more established risk factors," she added.
Experts said that the accepted ways to decrease a woman's risk of breast cancer include avoidance of weight gain, moderation in alcohol consumption if any, regular physical activity, and a healthy and balanced diet.