Occupation and the risk of malignant melanoma

Cancer. 1995 Jan 15;75(2 Suppl):637-44. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19950115)75:2+<637::aid-cncr2820751404>3.0.co;2-#.


Background: The incidence of malignant melanoma is increasing rapidly. The risk for development of malignant melanoma has been reported to be higher in persons of higher socioeconomic status.

Methods: This case-control study explores the relation between occupation and malignant melanoma relative risk through analysis of data collected by the American Cancer Society. A total of 1.2 million people were enrolled in a study of lifestyles and environmental factors in relation to mortality from cancer and other diseases. A total of 2780 persons had a history of malignant melanoma when the study began or developed malignant melanoma during the 6-year study follow-up period. The controls were matched for age, sex, race, and geographic location on an approximately 1:3 basis to persons selected from the remaining people enrolled.

Results: In men, malignant melanoma risk was significantly higher in high-paying versus low-paying occupations (odds ratio [OR], = 1.58; P < 0.001) and in white-collar versus blue-collar occupations (OR = 1.33; P < 0.001). No significant conclusions could be drawn for women. No significant difference in risk was noted between those with indoor versus outdoor occupations. Among specific occupational exposures, only exposure to X-rays significantly raised malignant melanoma risk (OR = 1.37; P = 0.002).

Conclusion: Upper pay scale and white-collar occupations significantly increase the risk for development of malignant melanoma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Income
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occupations*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Social Class
  • United States / epidemiology