Sunlamp use and the risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma: a population-based case-control study in Connecticut, USA

Int J Epidemiol. 1998 Oct;27(5):758-65. doi: 10.1093/ije/27.5.758.


Background: The relationship between cutaneous malignant melanoma and sunlamp use is examined in a Caucasian population in Connecticut, United States.

Methods: Cases were diagnosed between 15 January 1987 and 15 May 1987 with a first primary cutaneous melanoma. Controls were obtained from the general population, frequency matched to cases by sex and age, through random digit dialling of Connecticut telephone numbers.

Results: Of all study subjects, 141 (23%) cases and 95 (19%) controls reported ever having used sunlamps. The crude odds ratio (OR) for developing malignant melanoma after ever having used sunlamps was 1.30 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.97-1.74). This was reduced to 1.13 (95% CI: 0.82-1.54) after further adjusting for cutaneous phenotype and recreational sun exposure. Those who used more than one type of sunlamp had a threefold higher risk for melanoma compared to never users. Subgroup analyses showed that sunlamp use was associated with a greater increase in risk for melanoma among those who used sunlamps at home and those who were first exposed to sunlamps prior to 1971. The first use of sunlamps before the age of 25 showed somewhat higher risk for melanoma compared to first use later in life.

Conclusion: The current study provides limited evidence that use of sunlamps increases the risk of melanoma. For future studies, it is crucial that type of sunlamp, year of first use and amount of exposure are all taken into account. The association between melanoma and tanning with both UV-A and UV-B lamps and tanning under sunlamps early in life merits further investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Connecticut / epidemiology
  • Equipment Design
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / epidemiology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Factors
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Sunlight*