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Epidemiology. 1995 Sep;6(5):538-43.

Cutaneous melanoma in women. V. Characteristics of those who tan and those who burn when exposed to summer sun.

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Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine, University of California San Francisco 94109, USA.


We studied 338 Caucasian women with superficial spreading melanoma (hereafter called melanoma) and 872 control subjects ages 25-59 years and compared characteristics of women who reported that they tanned with sun exposure with those who reported that they burned. The purpose of the study was to investigate how skin type, as measured by tendency to burn or tan, modified the effect of other melanoma risk factors. There was a clear relation between tendency to burn and prevalence of red hair, light complexion, freckles, and history of sunburns during elementary school and high school. Host factors such as light complexion and increased number of self-assessed large nevi elevated risk of melanoma among women of all skin types. Increased risk for melanoma associated with frequent sunburns during childhood and adolescence was most pronounced for women who burned and then tanned; risk was not substantially elevated for women who burned without tanning. Women who had a history of sunburns had an increased melanoma risk even if they reported tanning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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