Individuals’ Risk of Melanoma Increases with Time Outdoors, Especially in High-Sunlight Areas

    This study included 718 melanoma patients recruited from the Hospital of the
    University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and from the University of
    California in San Francisco. The comparison group included 945 non-melanoma
    patients from those areas. The researchers limited the analysis to non-Hispanic
    whites because the numbers of cases in other racial/ethnic groups were too few
    for analysis.

    Each participant was interviewed in person to gather data including tendency
    to sunburn and ability to tan, along with medical, occupational, residential and
    outdoor exposure histories. Residential histories were constructed in six-month
    intervals, from date of birth to date of interview. Robertson-Berger (RB)
    meters, which measure the amount of solar radiation received in a particular
    location, were used to estimate the UVB intensity. A person’s cumulative
    intensity was estimated by adding up the RB counts for each residence location
    in six-month increments. Average annual intensity was determined by dividing the
    cumulative intensity by the person’s age in years.

    Future analyses will examine the effects of intermittent exposures on
    individual melanoma risk. For example, researchers will consider whether people
    who remain indoors for much of the week and then spend large amounts of time
    outdoors over the weekend or during a vacation are at higher risk of

    An estimated 53,600 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in the United
    States in 2002, and an estimated 7,400 people will die of the disease. Melanoma
    can be cured if detected and treated early.


    Fears TR, Bird CC, Guerry D, Sagebiel RW, Gail MH, Elder DE, Halpern A, Holly
    EA, Hartge P, Tucker MA. Average UVB Flux and Time Outdoors Predict Melanoma
    Risk, Cancer Research, July 15, 2002, Vol. 62, No. 14, 3992-3996.

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