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Am J Epidemiol. 1999 Sep 1;150(5):459-68.

Risk factors for basal cell carcinoma of the skin in men: results from the health professionals follow-up study.

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  • 1Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.


The authors examined the relation of constitutional factors and sun exposure to risk of basal cell carcinoma of the skin (BCC) in a prospective cohort of 44,591 predominantly Caucasian US male health professionals, 40-75 years of age and free of cancer at enrollment in 1986. During 8 years of follow-up, 3,273 cases of self-reported BCC were documented. The following variables were each associated with an elevated risk of BCC: having red hair; green, hazel, or blue eyes; a tendency to sunburn; and north European ancestry. The lifetime number of blistering sunburns was also positively associated with BCC risk (p trend < 0.0001). Compared with men who as teenagers had been outside less than once a week, men who had been outside weekly (relative risk (RR) = 1.30; 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.14, 1.47) and daily (RR = 1.42; 95% CI: 1.24, 1.63) had an elevated risk of BCC. Living in a region of residence with high solar radiation as an adult was also associated with an increased risk of BCC (RR = 1.48; 95% CI: 1.36, 1.60), whereas living in such a region only in childhood did not increase BCC risk. These results confirm the role of constitutional factors and suggest that adult sun exposure increases BCC risk.

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