Researchers at the University of San Antonio Medical Center (UAMC) have found that the risk of melanomas increases when skin cancer patients live in areas where they are exposed to sunlight.
In a study of 6,500 melanoma patients, researchers found that those with melanoma were five times more likely to have been exposed to outdoor air pollution than those without melanoma.
This is in contrast to previous studies that showed outdoor exposure was not associated with melanomas, suggesting that melanoma risk is linked to the environment.
The study, published online Feb. 11 in the journal PLOS ONE, found that people who lived in areas with the highest number of outdoor air pollutants had the highest melanoma rates, as measured by the amount of melanin found on the skin.
This finding is consistent with previous studies showing outdoor air exposure is associated with increased melanoma incidence.
The authors say the findings support the idea that indoor air pollution is a risk factor for melanoma and that it is important to understand the factors that might explain this association.
“This is a very promising finding,” said senior author Dr. Christopher P. Gee, assistant professor of dermatology at UAMC and an associate professor of medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
“We have found melanoma is a highly malignant and very difficult disease to treat.
The potential for this study to show melanoma can be prevented and that outdoor air is not a risk factors is very promising.
It is a great example of the need to continue looking for a causal relationship between air pollution and melanoma.”
The authors suggest that the most promising way to reduce indoor air pollutants is to implement policies and programs that help residents reduce their exposure to indoor air.
“The goal should be to limit the amount and type of outdoor activity, including moving around more, and to reduce the time spent outdoors, especially on the weekends,” said Gee.
“Also, it is crucial that people avoid sunscreens and other cosmetics that contain sunscreen.
In addition, they need to reduce their consumption of alcohol and tobacco.
If people stay in good physical shape, they should also limit their time spent on the internet, which increases their risk of developing skin cancer.
If you have melanoma, you should also consider getting regular tests for the melanoma cell-specific antigen, which is produced by melanoma cells and helps to diagnose melanoma early.”
To learn more about the research, go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27485894