Dietary Fat Intake and the Risk of Skin Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Observational Studies

Nutr Cancer. 2020;72(3):398-408. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2019.1637910. Epub 2019 Jul 12.


We conducted a meta-analysis to evaluate the association between fat intake and the risk of three major types of skin cancer including basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM). A comprehensive search of PubMed and EMBASE was performed to identify all relevant observational studies published up to December 1, 2018. Specific odds ratio (OR) or relative risk (RR) estimates for the highest versus the lowest intake of dietary fat and 95% confidence intervals (CI) from the included studies were pooled using random effect model. Three prospective cohort studies (175,675 participants and 30,915 BCC cases, 4,106 SCC cases and 1,638 CMM cases) and nine case-control studies (328 BCC cases, 493 SCC cases, 1,547 CMM cases and 2,660 controls) were identified. The pooled results indicated that dietary consumption of total fat and saturated fat were not associated with three major types of skin cancer. High consumption of monounsaturated fat was significantly associated with a decreased risk of BCC (RR: 0.90, 95% CI: 0.85-0.96) and high level of polyunsaturated fat intake was potentially positively associated with SCC (RR: 1.19, 95% CI: 1.06-1.33). Our findings should be confirmed by further evidence from well-designed and large-scale prospective cohort studies.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell / epidemiology*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids / adverse effects
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / administration & dosage
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Unsaturated

Supplementary concepts

  • Melanoma, Cutaneous Malignant