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Japanese Study Explores Risk Factors for Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer

By: Melissa Steele-Ogus
Posted: Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in people with fair skin; however, there has yet to be an epidemiologic study of skin cancer in Asian populations. However, recently published in Cancer Science, a Japan Public Health Center-based prospective study examined the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers in Japan. The study was a collaboration among researchers from multiple Japanese institutions and led by Shoichiro Tsugane, MD, PhD, of the Center for Public Health Sciences, National Cancer Center, Tokyo.

Two cohorts of patients between the ages of 40 and 69 were enrolled in the study, totaling 140,420 participants; cohort I began enrollment in 1990 and cohort II, in 1993. After exclusions, a final cohort of 95,990 participants was analyzed. Participants were classified according to lifestyle factors, occupational type, sex, and family history of cancer. Follow-up occurred in 2012 and 2013.

At follow-up, a total of 284 participants (133 men and 151 women) had been newly diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer since enrollment. In total, 117 patients had basal cell carcinoma, 98 patients had squamous cell carcinoma, and 69 patients had cancer of an unknown subtype.

Men with a family history of cancer had a 1.99 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.10–3.62) higher risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma; similarly, men who worked outdoors had a 2.18 (95% CI = 1.17–4.04) higher risk. Outdoor work did not carry the same risk for basal cell carcinoma, nor was there any difference in risk between women who worked in outdoor versus indoor environments. None of the lifestyle factors examined in the study—including smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity, body mass index, and caffeine consumption—appeared to contribute to an increased risk of skin cancer in either men or women.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.



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