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Sunburn at Any Age Greatly Boosts Melanoma Risk.

More than five sunburns in a lifetime doubles the risk of melanoma, regardless of whether these sunburns occur in childhood or adulthood.

This was the finding of Dr. Annette Pfahlberg of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany) and her associates in the FEBIM Study Group.

Their case-matched study of 603 melanoma cases and 627 controls refutes the prior notion that sunburn at an earlier age is more likely to cause melanoma than sunburn at an older age (Br. J. Dermatol. 144[3]:471-75, 2001).

The study, which analyzed sunburns incurred in two time periods--before and after the age of 15 years--found a consistent increase in melanoma risk with frequency of sunburns that becomes twice the risk with more than five sunburns and three times the risk with 15 or more sunburns over a lifetime.

Individuals who sunburn a lot in childhood also tend to sunburn a lot in adulthood, which can confound analysis, said Dr. Pfahlberg and her associates, whose research looked at people in seven European countries.

But the investigators found that when they adjusted the melanoma risk for both time periods, there was no difference in risk, whether sunburns occurred during childhood or adulthood.

The current study is the largest case-control study to look at this issue. Because the study found that sunburns contribute to melanoma throughout life, "preventive activities educating the public. . . should not be focused on younger age groups or parents with young children but, rather, to the entire population," they said.

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Author:KIRN, TIMOTHY F.
Publication:Pediatric News
Geographic Code:4EUGE
Date:Jul 1, 2001
Words:245
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