Risk for Cutaneous Melanoma Not Significantly Higher Among Current, Former Smokers

Study finds a strong inverse association between cigarette smoking and melanoma risk among men.

An inverse association between cigarette smoking and melanoma risk among men has been suggested by study data published in Dermatology. Specifically, melanoma risk decreased as the number of years participants smoked increased. Among men and women, neither current nor former smokers were at significantly increased risk for melanoma.

Investigators conducted a case-control study of 1157 patients diagnosed with melanoma between 2003 and 2011 in the Netherlands. Control individuals (n=5595) were selected from the Nijmegen Biomedical Study, a population-based study of adults living in the Netherlands. Smoking habits and various melanoma risk factors, including sun exposure, were captured through self-report questionnaires. Logistic regression analyses were performed to assess the effect of smoking status on melanoma risk, adjusted for age, marital status, highest educational attainment, skin type, time spent in the sun, and use of sun protective measures. Analyses were also stratified by sex.

Among men, neither current nor former smokers were at increased risk for melanoma compared with men who had never smoked, with odds ratios (ORs) of 0.56 (95% CI, 0.40-0.79) and 0.50 (95% CI, 0.39-0.64), respectively. In addition, the risk for melanoma decreased as the number of years smoked increased; for <20 years, 21 to 40 years, and >40 years smoked, the ORs were 0.61 (95% CI, 0.46-0.80), 0.50 (95% CI, 0.37-0.68), and 0.26 (95% CI, 0.15-0.44), respectively. The number of cigarettes smoked had no clear effect on melanoma risk. Among women, current (OR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.74-1.26) and former (OR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.73-1.08) smokers had decreased odds of melanoma compared with those who had never smoked, although the results were not statistically significant.

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Overall, these data indicate no increased risk for cutaneous melanoma among current or former smokers. However, the strong inverse relationship between years smoked and melanoma risk among men warrants further investigation. Of note, questionnaire responses were obtained from just 42% of the intended control population, possibly introducing a risk for bias. Fundamental laboratory research is necessary to investigate the biological relation between smoking cigarettes and melanoma, investigators wrote.

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Sondermeijer L, Lamboo LGE, de Waal AC, et al. Cigarette smoking and the risk of cutaneous melanoma: a case-control study [published online September 10, 2019]. Dermatology. doi:10.1159/000502129