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Sunburn, suntan and the risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma--The Western Canada Melanoma Study.

British Journal of Cancer
Nature Publishing Group
Publication Date
  • Research Article


A comparison of interview data on 595 patients with newly incident cutaneous melanoma, excluding lentigo maligna melanoma and acral lentiginous melanoma, with data from comparison subjects drawn from the general population, showed that melanoma risk increased in association with the frequency and severity of past episodes of sunburn, and also that melanoma risk was higher in subjects who usually had a relatively mild degree of suntan compared to those with moderate or deep suntan in both winter and summer. The associations with sunburn and with suntan were independent. Melanoma risk is also increased in association with a tendency to burn easily and tan poorly and with pigmentation characteristics of light hair and skin colour, and history freckles; the associations with sunburn and suntan are no longer significant when these other factors are taken into account. This shows that pigmentation characteristics, and the usual skin reaction to sun, are more closely associated with melanoma risk than are sunburn and suntan histories.

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