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Study Examines Relationship Between Fat Intake and Risk of Skin Cancer

By: Sylvia O'Regan
Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2019

A study examining the association between fat intake and the development of several types of skin cancer has found that consumption of polyunsaturated fat intake is “modestly associated” with the risk of skin cancer. According to Eunyoung Cho, ScD, of Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues, who published their findings in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, “Further studies are needed to confirm [these] findings and to identify relevant biological mechanisms.”

The investigators focused on the links between consumption of a variety of fats and the risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma, and basal cell carcinoma. They relied on data from two prospective studies: the Nurses’ Health Study (1984–2012) and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (1986–2012).

Within both studies, dietary information about intake of total, saturated, monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, omega-6, and omega-3 fat and cholesterol was assessed every 4 years. Development of skin cancer was self-reported, whereas the diagnosis of melanoma and squamous cell carcinoma was confirmed by medical records. Across the two studies, there were 1,530 recorded cases of melanoma, 3,979 cases of squamous cell carcinoma, and 30,648 cases of basal cell carcinoma.

The investigators observed that a high intake of polyunsaturated fat was associated with risk for squamous cell carcinoma; increased omega-6 fat intake was associated with risks for melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma; and omega-3 fat intake was associated with risk for basal cell carcinoma. “The associations were similar in women and men and by other skin cancer risk factors,” they noted.

Additional observations were that cholesterol intake was associated with a lower risk for squamous cell carcinomas and intake of monounsaturated fat was linked with a lower risk for basal cell carcinoma. Furthermore, trans fat intake did not appear to be associated with any type of skin cancer.

Disclosure: The study authors’ disclosure information may be found at cebp.aacrjournals.org.



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