Background: Epidemiological evidence suggests an inverse association between sun exposure and follicular lymphoma (FL) risk.
Methods: We conducted an Australian population-based family case-control study based on 666 cases and 459 controls (288 related, 171 unrelated). Participants completed a lifetime residence and work calendar and recalled outdoor hours on weekdays, weekends and holidays in the warmer and cooler months at ages 10, 20, 30, and 40 years, and clothing types worn in the warmer months. We used a group-based trajectory modeling approach to identify outdoor hour trajectories over time and examined associations with FL risk using logistic regression.
Results: We observed an inverse association between FL risk and several measures of high lifetime sun exposure, particularly intermittent exposure (weekends, holidays). Associations included reduced risk with increasing time outdoors on holidays in the warmer months (highest category odds ratio (OR)=0.56, 95% CI 0.42-0.76; P-trend <0.01), high outdoor hours on weekends in the warmer months (highest category OR=0.71, 95% CI 0.52-0.96), and increasing time outdoors in the warmer and cooler months combined (highest category OR=0.66, 95% CI 0.50-0.91; P-trend 0.01). Risk was reduced for high outdoor hour maintainers in the warmer months across the decade years (OR=0.71, 95% CI 0.53-0.96).
Conclusion: High total and intermittent sun exposure, particularly in the warmer months, may be protective against the development of FL.
Impact: Although sun exposure is not recommended as a cancer control policy, confirming this association may provide insights regarding the future control of this intractable malignancy.