Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 21, Issue 12, pp 2137–2147

MC1R genotype may modify the effect of sun exposure on melanoma risk in the GEM study


    • Sydney School of Public HealthThe University of Sydney
  • Bruce K. Armstrong
    • Sydney School of Public HealthThe University of Sydney
  • Chris Goumas
    • Sydney School of Public HealthThe University of Sydney
  • Peter Kanetsky
    • University of Pennsylvania
  • Richard P. Gallagher
    • British Columbia Cancer Agency
  • Colin B. Begg
    • Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
  • Robert C. Millikan
    • Department of Epidemiology, School of Public HealthUniversity of North Carolina
  • Terence Dwyer
    • Royal Children’s Hospital
  • Stefano Rosso
    • Piedmont Cancer RegistryCentre for Epidemiology and Prevention in Oncology in Piedmont
  • Loraine D. Marrett
    • Cancercare Ontario
  • Nancy E. Thomas
    • Department of Dermatology, Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer CenterUniversity of North Carolina
  • Marianne Berwick
    • University of New Mexico
  • GEM Study Group
Original paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10552-010-9633-3

Cite this article as:
Kricker, A., Armstrong, B.K., Goumas, C. et al. Cancer Causes Control (2010) 21: 2137. doi:10.1007/s10552-010-9633-3


We investigated whether MC1R genotype modifies the effect of sun exposure on melanoma risk in 1,018 cases with multiple melanomas (MPM) and 1,875 controls with one melanoma (SPM). There was some suggestion that MC1R genotype modified the effect of beach and water activities on MPM risk: ORs were 1.94 (95% CI 1.40–2.70) for any activities for no R variants and 1.39 (95% CI 1.05–1.84) with R variants (R151C, R160W, D294H, and D84E) (p for interaction 0.08). MC1R modification of sun exposure effects appeared most evident for MPM of the head and neck: for early life ambient UV, the OR was 4.23 (95% CI 1.76–10.20) with no R and 1.04 (95% CI 0.40–2.68) with R (p for interaction = 0.01; p for three-way interaction = 0.01). Phenotype modified the effect of sun exposure and MPM in a similar manner. We conclude that MC1R and pigmentary phenotype may modify the effects of sun exposure on melanoma risk on more continuously sun-exposed skin. Possible explanations include that risk may saturate with higher sun sensitivity for melanomas on continuously sun-exposed sites but continue to increase as sun exposure increases with lower sun sensitivity, or that sun-sensitive people adapt their behavior by increasing sun protection when exposed.


MelanomaMC1R polymorphismSun exposurePigmentary phenotype

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010