Residential sunlight exposure is associated with a decreased risk of prostate cancer

Esther M. John, Darlene M. Dreon, Jocelyn Koo, Gary G. Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

76 Scopus citations


The possibility that exposure to sunlight reduces the risk of clinical prostate cancer has been strongly suggested by ecologic data. However, data on prostate cancer risk in relation to sunlight exposure in individuals are sparse. We analyzed data from the First National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) Epidemiologic Follow-up Study in order to test the hypothesis that residential sunlight exposure reduces the risk of prostate cancer. We identified 153 men with incident prostate cancer from a cohort of 3414 white men who completed the baseline interview and dermatologic examination in 1971-1975 and were followed up to 1992. We used Cox proportional hazards modeling to estimate relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for measures of residential sunlight exposure, adjusting for age, family history of prostate cancer, and dietary intake of fat and calcium. Residence in the South at baseline (RR=0.68, CI=0.41-1.13), state of longest residence in the South (RR=0.62, CI=0.40-0.95), and high solar radiation in the state of birth (RR=0.49, CI=0.30-0.79) were associated with significant and substantial reductions in prostate cancer risk. These data support the hypothesis that sunlight exposure reduces the risk of prostate cancer and have important implications for prostate cancer prevention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-552
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
StatePublished - May 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Epidemiology
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sunlight
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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