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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Jun;13(6):1042-51.

Diet and melanoma in a case-control study.

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  • 1Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-7344, USA.



Malignant melanoma has been one of the most rapidly increasing cancers within the United States with few modifiable risk factors. This study investigates risk related to dietary factors, which are potentially modifiable.


Newly diagnosed patients with melanoma (n = 502) were recruited from pigment lesion clinics and controls (n = 565) were recruited from outpatient clinics. To investigate the relationship between melanoma and dietary factors in this case-control study, study subjects were requested to complete a food frequency questionnaire, which assessed diet over the previous year. Using logistic regression, odds ratios (ORs) for melanoma were computed for nutrient and alcohol intake.


Persons in high versus low quintiles of energy-adjusted vitamin D, alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and lycopene had significantly reduced risk for melanoma (ORs < or = 0.67), which remained after adjustment for presence of dysplastic nevi, education, and skin response to repeated sun exposure. Addition of micronutrients from supplements did not add an additional reduction in risk. High alcohol consumption was associated with an increased risk for melanoma, which remained after adjustment for confounders [OR (95% confidence interval) in highest versus lowest quintiles, 1.65 (1.09-2.49)].


Diets consisting of foods rich in vitamin D and carotenoids and low in alcohol may be associated with a reduction in risk for melanoma. These analyses should be repeated in large, prospective studies.

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