Rosacea Associated With Higher Breast Cancer Risk

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Is rosacea a manifestation of systemic disease and inflammation?

A study found an association between rosacea and a higher incidence of breast cancer and glioma, possibly related to their shared relationship with inflammation. Conversely, the researchers also found a lower prevalence of hematologic cancer in patients with rosacea. The findings were published in the Journal of Dermatology.

Patients with newly diagnosed tumors (n=7548) who had a follow-up assessment for rosacea were enrolled in the study. Rosacea was diagnosed if patients experienced flushing episodes several times a day and/or changes in erythema, telangiectasia, papules, pustules, and phymatous approximately 1 year prior to receiving a cancer diagnosis. An age- and sex-matched cancer-free control cohort was also included for comparison (n=8340). The researchers evaluated correlations between cancer and rosacea diagnoses in logistic regression analyses.

Compared with patients without rosacea, patients with rosacea had an increased breast cancer risk (odds ratio [OR], 5.0; 95% CI, 4.02-6.2; P <.001), as well as glioma risk (OR, 2.16; 95% CI, 1.12-4.17; P =.02). Patients with rosacea also had a reduced risk for hematologic tumors compared with patients who were rosacea-free (OR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.2-0.55; P <.001). Patient age with breast cancer and rosacea was lower than patients with breast cancer without rosacea (47.4±0.6 vs 49.6±0.3 years, respectively; P <.01). Relative to the non-rosacea group, patients in the rosacea group were more likely to have an estrogen receptor (ER)-positive status (OR, 2.57; 95% CI, 1.43-4.63), high low-density lipoprotein levels (OR, 2.22; 95% CI, 1.43-3.45; P =.02), and low high-density lipoprotein levels (OR, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.21-4.63; P =.07).

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Study limitations include the recruitment of patients from a single center, as well as the use of a survey to identify patients with tumors.

“We confirm that rosacea may be a manifestation of systemic disease on the skin,” the investigators wrote, “and the underlying mechanisms require further studies to explain.”


The study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Key Technology R&D Program of Hunan Provincial Project of Hunan.

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Long J, Li J, Yuan X, et al. Potential association between rosacea and cancer: A study in a medical center in southern China [published online May 23, 2019]. J Dermatol. doi:10.1111/1346-8138.14918