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Leg moles? Get out the sunblocker.

Leg moles? Get out the sunblocker

An even greater melanoma-risk factor than being hard to tan is the presence of moles on the skin. In the past, researchers often attempted to gauge relative melanoma susceptibility by counting moles on the arm or whole body, notes dermatologist Martin A. Weinstock of Brown University in Providence, R.I. But data he and Harvard colleagues report in the June 21 JOURNAL OF THE NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE show that leg moles -- especially lower-leg moles -- offer the best predictor of melanoma risk. Twelve or more moles there were nearly twice as powerful a predictor as 27 or more arm moles and roughly 25 percent more predictive than whole-body counts. Moreover, the study showed, where someone's moles predominate bears no relation to where an eventual melanoma will develop.

This study suggests it's not the moles themselves that cause melanoma, Weinstock points out. Rather, he says, they serve as a sentinel of who stands an especially high risk.

Another study by the same team, due in the August PEDIATRICS, suggests living in the southern United States poses roughly double the melanoma risk -- probably from enhanced ultraviolet radiation -- of living in the North.
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Title Annotation:Biomedicine
Publication:Science News
Date:Jul 8, 1989
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