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01-10-2009 | Dermatology | Article

Tanning could pose melanoma risk to light-skinned children


Free abstract

MedWire News: A US study suggests that light-skinned children who develop tans may be at increased risk for melanoma in later life.

The findings showed that very light-skinned children who tanned developed more nevi than others who only minimally tanned.

High numbers of nevi have already been established as an important marker for melanoma risk, the researchers note.

“Thus, tanning avoidance may reduce the risk for melanoma in the lightest-skinned, non-redhead children,” they say.

The prospective cohort study was nested within a randomized trial, and included 131 very-light-skinned White children and 444 darker-skinned White children without red hair who were born in Colorado between January and September 1998.

Skin examinations conducted in 2004, 2005, and 2006 included full-body counts of nevi, skin color and tanning measurements using colorimetry, and hair and eye color evaluation using charts.

Parents were also telephoned about the children’s sun exposure, sun protection, and sunburn history.

Among very-light-skinned White children, geometric mean nevi numbers for minimally tanned children were 14.8 at the age of 6 years, 18.8 at 7 years, and 22.3 at 8 years.

Mean nevi numbers for tanned children at these ages were a corresponding 21.2, 27.9, and 31.9, and significantly higher than those of untanned children at all ages.

The relationship between tanning and number of nevi was independent of hair and eye color, sun exposure, and skin phototype.

Tanning did not relate to nevi in the darker-skinned White children, note Lori Crane (University of Colorado, Denver) and colleagues in the Archives of Dermatology.

They conclude: “Whether nevus development is directly in the pathway for melanoma development or a surrogate marker for UV-induced skin damage and/or genetic susceptibility to melanoma, our results suggest that tanning avoidance should be considered as a measure for the reduction of melanoma risk in this population.”

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a part of Springer Science+Business Media. © Current Medicine Group Ltd; 2009

By Anita Wilkinson