Use of topical sunscreens and the risk of malignant melanoma: a meta-analysis of 9067 patients from 11 case-control studies

Am J Public Health. 2002 Jul;92(7):1173-7. doi: 10.2105/ajph.92.7.1173.


Objectives: This study examined the methodology of epidemiological studies that suggest use of topical sunscreen preparations is associated with increased risk of malignant melanoma.

Methods: We pooled data from observational studies using a general variance-based meta-analytic method that employed confidence intervals (previously described). The outcome of interest was a summary relative risk (RR) reflecting the risk of melanoma associated with sunscreen use versus nonuse. Sensitivity analyses were performed when necessary to explain any observed statistical heterogeneity.

Results: Combining studies that used non-heterogeneous data yielded a summary RR of 1.01, indicating no association between sunscreen use and development of malignant melanoma.

Conclusions: The available epidemiological data do not support the existence of a relationship between topical sunscreen use and an increased risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Epidemiologic Studies
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Melanoma / prevention & control
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Sunscreening Agents / adverse effects
  • Sunscreening Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*


  • Sunscreening Agents