According to the results of a study published in Preventive Medicine, countries with higher levels of sunlight tend to have lower rates of endometrial cancer; this may be due the link between sunlight and vitamin D.

Endometrial cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer in women, with an estimated 39,000 new cased diagnosed in the U.S. in 2007.[[1]]( "_ednref1")

Factors that increase the risk of endometrial cancer include obesity, unopposed estrogen (estrogen given without progestin), early age at first menstrual period, late age at menopause, and tamoxifen. Pregnancy and use of oral contraceptives appear to decrease the risk of endometrial cancer.

Another factor that could potentially influence the risk of endometrial cancer is vitamin D. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that comes from dietary supplements, foods such as fortified milk and cereal, certain kinds of fish (including salmon, mackerel, and tuna), and exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is hypothesized to play a role in the prevention of several types of cancer.

Because sun exposure causes production of vitamin D in the skin, researchers explored how sun exposure and endometrial cancer rates varied across 107 countries.[[2]]( "_ednref2") The study used information about population averages (individual-level information was not collected).

  • Rates of endometrial cancer increased as latitude increased.
  • Countries with higher levels of obesity, higher intake of food from animal sources, and higher levels of per capita health expenditures also tended to have higher rates of endometrial cancer.

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This study suggests that sun exposure may reduce the risk of endometrial cancer, possibly as a result of increased vitamin D levels.


[[1]]( "_edn1") American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2007. Available at: (Accessed December 10, 2007).

[[2]]( "_edn2") Mohr SB, Garland CF, Gorham ED, Grant WB, Garland FC. Is ultraviolet B irradiance inversely associated with incidence rates of endometrial cancer: an ecological study of 107 countries. Preventive Medicine. 2007;45:327-31.

Related News:Additional Evidence that Estrogen Alone Increases the Risk of Endometrial Cancer(11/09/2006)

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