Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 2, Issue 6, pp 401–411

Malignant melanoma risk by nativity, place of residence at diagnosis, and age at migration

  • Thomas M. Mack
  • Birgitta Floderus
Research Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00054301

Cite this article as:
Mack, T.M. & Floderus, B. Cancer Causes Control (1991) 2: 401. doi:10.1007/BF00054301


Although geographic latitude is clearly linked to the risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma, the chronology of this link is unclear. Based on the 4,611 cases of melanoma with known place of nativity diagnosed in 1972–82 among the non-Latino White residents of Los Angeles County (California, United States) of known place of origin, migrants to Los Angeles from higher US latitudes enjoy relative safety from skin melanoma. This relative safety is largely unaffected by the interval since migration, even after decades of residence in Los Angeles. The same relative protection is enjoyed by native residents of more northerly US communities in comparison with co-resident migrants from the southwestern US. While the observed effect of latitude is consistent with the accepted importance of solar radiation as a determinant of melanoma risk, it suggests that early, rather than late or cumulative, exposure is of most importance. This finding does not affirm the belief that protection of adult skin from exposure to the sun will reduce the risk from melanoma. It does suggest that decades must pass before it will be possible to assess the impact on melanoma risk of any increase in ultraviolet radiation delivered to the earth as a result of the destruction of atmospheric ozone.

Key words

Latent period latitude melanoma migration solar exposure United States 

Copyright information

© Rapid Communications of Oxford Ltd 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas M. Mack
  • Birgitta Floderus

There are no affiliations available

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