[4 min read] Does childhood sunscreen use decrease risk of melanoma before age 40?

Does an association exist between the use of sunscreen in childhood and early adulthood and risk of melanoma before age 40 years, and what factors are associated with sunscreen use among Australian children and young adults?

There are limited data among young adults on sunscreen use during childhood and adulthood and on the association of sunscreen use with melanoma risk. A recent study aimed to assess correlates of early-life sunscreen use and the association between sunscreen use and risk of cutaneous melanoma before age 40.

In a population-based, case-control family study, researchers analysed Australian Melanoma Family Study data for people with questionnaire data on sunscreen use collected by interview from 2001 to 2005 across three states in Australia, representing two-thirds of the country’s population. Case participants (aged 18-39 years) had confirmed first primary melanoma. Siblings of case participants were included, and case participants without a sibling control were excluded. Unrelated controls (aged 18-44 years) were recruited from the electoral roll or were a spouse, partner, or friend nominated by case participants. Data analyses were conducted from October 2017 to February 2018.

There were 603 patients and 1088 controls. Participants and their parents reported on participants’ sunscreen use, sun exposure, and other candidate risk factors during childhood and adulthood.

Childhood sunscreen use and lifetime sunscreen use were significantly associated with a decreased risk of cutaneous melanoma among young adults. Sex, age, ancestry, educational level, skin pigmentation, and sunburn were factors associated with sunscreen use.

The study concluded that regular sunscreen use may reduce the risk of melanoma among young adults.

To summarise, there was evidence that regular sunscreen use is significantly associated with reduced risk of cutaneous melanoma among young adults, and researchers identified several characteristics associated with less sunscreen use.

Read more recent research on melanoma risk factors.

Source:
Watts CG, Drummond M, Goumas C, et al. Sunscreen Use and Melanoma Risk Among Young Australian Adults. JAMA Dermatol. 2018;154(9):1001–1009. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.1774

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