Objective: To estimate the association between UV index, latitude, and melanoma incidence in different racial and ethnic populations in a high-quality national data set.
Design: Descriptive study.
Setting: Eleven US cancer registries that constitute the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER-11).
Patients: Patients with malignant melanoma of the skin reported between 1992 and 2001.
Main outcome measures: Pearson correlation coefficients and regression coefficients were used to estimate the relationship of age-adjusted melanoma incidence rates (2000 US standard population) with the UV index or latitude within racial and ethnic groups.
Results: A higher mean UV index was significantly associated with an increase in melanoma incidence only in non-Hispanic whites (r = 0.85, P = .001), although a nonsignificant association was noted in Native Americans (r = 0.42, P = .20). Negative, but not significant, correlations with incidence were observed in blacks (r = -0.53, P = .10), Hispanics (r = -0.43, P = .19), and Asians (r = -0.28, P = .41). Latitude also had a significant correlation with incidence only in non-Hispanic whites (r = -0.85, P = .001). A substantial portion of the variance in registry incidence in non-Hispanic whites could be explained by the UV index (R(2) = 0.71, P = .001).
Conclusions: Melanoma incidence is associated with increased UV index and lower latitude only in non-Hispanic whites. No evidence to support the association of UV exposure and melanoma incidence in black or Hispanic populations was found.