Dietary fat intake and risk of skin cancer: a prospective study in Australian adults

Int J Cancer. 2009 Oct 1;125(7):1678-84. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24481.


Although intakes of dietary fat have been associated with both basal cell carcinoma (BCC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the skin, the evidence is sparse and inconsistent. This study prospectively investigated the association between total dietary fat; saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids; and percent energy from fat in relation to BCC and SCC of the skin. At baseline in 1992, total fat intake and intake of fatty acids were assessed in an Australian community-based longitudinal study, using a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire in 1,057 adult residents (aged 25-75 years) in Nambour, Queensland. Information on demography, sun-sensitivity history and sun exposure factors were obtained using self-administered questionnaires. Associations with BCC and SCC in terms of persons newly affected and of tumor counts were assessed using Poisson and negative binomial regression models, respectively, based on incident, histologically-confirmed tumors occurring between 1992 and 2002. No significant linear trends were observed in overall risk of BCC or SCC of the skin with increasing total fat intake. However, in participants with a history of skin cancer, total fat intake (multivariable adjusted RR = 2.42, 95% CI = 1.20-4.88; p for trend = 0.01) was associated with increased numbers of SCC tumors comparing the highest to lowest tertile. In conclusion, SCC tumor risk increased as total fat intake increased in people with a history of skin cancer. Dietary fats were not associated with BCC occurrence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / etiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / etiology
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects*
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poisson Distribution
  • Prospective Studies
  • Queensland / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids