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24-03-2011 | Oncology | Article

High socioeconomic status increases melanoma risk in young women


Free abstract

MedWire News: Young Californian women with high socioeconomic status (SES) have a higher rate of melanoma than those with lower socioeconomic status, suggest results from a US study.

The researchers found that women living in neighborhoods with the highest SES and ultraviolet radiation (UVR) indices were 80% more likely to have melanoma than those living in neighborhoods in the lowest categories for these two factors.

Christina Clarke (Cancer Prevention Institute of California, USA) and colleagues say that a large proportion of the disparity in melanoma risk between these two neighborhood types is likely to be due to differences in SES rather than UVR indices, as women from high SES and UVR index areas had a 73% higher incidence of melanoma than those from low SES, high UVR index areas.

Clarke and team collected data on residential SES and UVR indices from 3842 young Californian women (aged 15-39 years) with melanoma. SES (based on educational level, income, and occupation) was measured in each census tract area of residence using a five-point scoring system in which a score of one indicated the lowest SES and five the highest. UVR indices for each census tract area were categorized into tertiles.

The authors suggest that the discrepancy in melanoma risk could be due to women with high SES being more affluent and having more leisure time to take part in outdoor activities or sunbathe than less affluent women with lower SES. These women are also more likely to go on holiday to places with a high UVR index and may also use tanning beds more frequently than women with lower SES, say the authors.

"Understanding the ways that socioeconomic status and UVR exposure work together to influence melanoma incidence is important for planning effective prevention and education efforts," conclude Clarke et al in the Archives of Dermatology.

"Interventions should target adolescent girls and young women living in high SES and high UVR neighborhoods because they have experienced a significantly greater increase in disease burden."

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert

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