A protective effect of the Mediterranean diet for cutaneous melanoma

Int J Epidemiol. 2008 Oct;37(5):1018-29. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyn132. Epub 2008 Jul 11.


Background: Many studies have investigated the Mediterranean diet as a risk factor for cancer, none of which has included cutaneous melanoma. The latter is usually fatal, rendering knowledge about prevention extremely important. We assessed the role of some food components of the Mediterranean diet and cutaneous melanoma.

Methods: A hospital-based case-control study was conducted in the inpatient wards of IDI-San Carlo Rome, Italy including 304 incident cases of cutaneous melanoma and 305 controls, frequency matched to cases. Information on socio-demographic characteristics, medical history, smoking, sun exposure, pigmentary characteristics and diet was collected. Logistic regression was the method used to estimated odds ratio and 95% CIs.

Results: After careful control for several sun exposure and pigmentary characteristics, we found a protective effect for weekly consumption of fish (OR, 0.65, 95%CI = 0.43-0.97), shellfish (OR, 0.53, 95%CI = 0.31-0.89), fish rich in n-3 fatty acids (OR, 0.52, 95%CI = 0.34-0.78), daily tea drinking (OR, 0.42, 95%CI, 0.18-0.95; P(trend) = 0.025) and high consumption of vegetables (OR, 0.50, 95%CI = 0.31-0.80, P(trend) = 0.005) in particular carrots, cruciferous and leafy vegetables and fruits (OR, 0.54, 95%CI =0.33-0.86, P(trend) = 0.013), in particular citrus fruits. No association was found for alcohol consumption and any other food items.

Conclusion: Overall, our findings suggest that some dietary factors present in the Mediterranean diet might protect from cutaneous melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants
  • Brassica
  • Brassicaceae
  • Carotenoids
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Citrus
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Humans
  • Lentigo / complications
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nevus / complications
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin Pigmentation
  • Sunburn / complications
  • Tea


  • Antioxidants
  • Tea
  • Carotenoids