Sun exposure, birth weight, and childhood lymphomas: a case control study in Greece

Cancer Causes Control. 2007 Nov;18(9):1031-7. doi: 10.1007/s10552-007-9044-2. Epub 2007 Jul 26.


Objectives: To explore whether the inverse association of sun exposure with non Hodgkin lymphoma among adults is also evident among the childhood population and test the specificity of the relation by contrasting the findings to those for Hodgkin lymphoma.

Methods: A total of 87 cases of childhood (0-14 years) with non Hodgkin lymphoma and 71 with Hodgkin lymphoma, diagnosed in Greece through the national network of childhood Hematology-Oncology Units, during a 7-year period, along with 164 age- and gender-matched control children were enrolled in the study. The guardians of all eligible children were interviewed in person on the basis of a structured questionnaire covering socio-demographic, anthropometric, and perinatal characteristics. Average time of sunbathing per year at a seaside resort was used as a proxy variable of exposure to sun controlling for use of sun protection measures.

Results: The estimated incidence of 10.2 cases per 1,000,000 children-years {95% Confidence Intervals (CI), 8.4-12.1} for NHL during the study period in Greece is around the average figure in countries of the European Union. There was an inverse association of sun exposure with Non Hodgkin lymphoma, namely, for an increment of 15 days of sunbathing at seaside resorts children had almost 40% lower risk (Odds Ratio: 0.60, 95% CI: 0.43-0.83), whereas no such association was evident for Hodgkin lymphoma. The risk for non Hodgkin lymphoma has been found to be statistically and significantly higher in birth weight (Odds ratio: 1.42 and 95% CI, 1.04-1.92, for every 500 g increment), whereas there was no substantial indication that maternal education or maternal smoking during the child's life were important risk factors for the disease.

Conclusions: This is the first study to provide epidemiological evidence that increased sun exposure of children may also be associated with a decreased risk of developing childhood non Hodgkin, but not Hodgkin lymphoma.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Birth Weight*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Confounding Factors, Epidemiologic
  • Female
  • Greece / epidemiology
  • Hodgkin Disease / diagnosis
  • Hodgkin Disease / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma / epidemiology*
  • Lymphoma / etiology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / diagnosis
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Ultraviolet Rays