Early-life sun exposure and risk of melanoma before age 40 years

Cancer Causes Control. 2011 Jun;22(6):885-97. doi: 10.1007/s10552-011-9762-3. Epub 2011 Apr 7.


Objective: To examine associations between early-life sun exposure and risk of invasive cutaneous melanoma diagnosed between ages 18 and 39 years.

Methods: Data were analysed from 606 cases and 481 controls from the Australian Melanoma Family Study, a population-based, case-control-family study. Self- and parent-reported sun exposure was collected by interview. Odds ratios (OR) were estimated using unconditional logistic regression, adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: Self-reported childhood total sun exposure was not associated with melanoma overall, but was positively associated with melanoma diagnosed at 18-29 years of age (OR for highest vs. lowest quartile: 3.21, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.38-7.44; P (trend) 0.02; P (interaction) by age group 0.09). Analyses restricted to participants whose self-reported sun exposure was concordant with that recalled by their parents gave an OR for the highest versus lowest tertile of childhood total sun exposure of 2.28 (95% CI 1.03-5.04; P (trend) 0.05), and for any versus no severe childhood sunburn of 2.36 (95% CI 1.05-5.31). The association of self-reported severe sunburn with melanoma was evident only in people who tended to tan rather than burn and in people who had few nevi.

Conclusion: The association of early-life sun exposure with early-onset melanoma is influenced by host factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Age of Onset
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Family
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Melanoma / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Solar System*
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • Young Adult