Non-Melanoma Skin Cancers Coverage from Every Angle

How BMI Interacts With Sun Exposure and Risk of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

By: Anna Nowogrodzki
Posted: Tuesday, January 29, 2019

For white women with a high body mass index (BMI) and a high waist-to-hip ratio, the risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer may increase more steeply with more sun exposure, according to a prospective study based on the Women’s Health Initiative and intended to obtain additional information regarding lifestyle and risk factors that might influence skin cancer. It is important to note that the study relied on postmenopausal women completing a self-reported annual questionnaire on time spent in the sun many years earlier. The results were published in Cancer by Delphine J. Lee, MD, PhD, of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor–UCLA Medical Center, and colleagues.

“Additional studies of other populations (such as younger individuals or males) are required to determine whether these findings are applicable to other groups,” wrote the authors.

The prospective study included about 72,000 postmenopausal white women who were between the ages of 50 and 79 years old when they enrolled in the study between 1993 and 1998. The researchers asked the women to self-report how many hours per day they spent outside in the summer as a child, as a teen, during their 30s, and currently. The questionnaire also focused on physical activity, skin reaction to the sun, and sun protection factor used. The researchers assumed that all sun exposure had happened at the clinic site where each woman enrolled in the study and used that location’s ultraviolet intensity to calculate overall sun exposure. BMIs and waist-to-hip ratios were measured in the clinic.

As in previous research, the authors found that white women with a higher BMI had a lower average risk of developing non-melanoma skin cancer. However, the authors of this study also found that for white women with a BMI of 25 kg/m2 or higher or a waist-to-hip ratio of 0.8 or higher, the risk of non-melanoma skin cancer increased more steeply with increasing sun exposure.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at

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