Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 885–897 | Cite as

Early-life sun exposure and risk of melanoma before age 40 years

  • Anne E. Cust
  • Mark A. Jenkins
  • Chris Goumas
  • Bruce K. Armstrong
  • Helen Schmid
  • Joanne F. Aitken
  • Graham G. Giles
  • Richard F. Kefford
  • John L. Hopper
  • Graham J. Mann
Original paper



To examine associations between early-life sun exposure and risk of invasive cutaneous melanoma diagnosed between ages 18 and 39 years.


Data were analysed from 606 cases and 481 controls from the Australian Melanoma Family Study, a population-based, case–control-family study. Self- and parent-reported sun exposure was collected by interview. Odds ratios (OR) were estimated using unconditional logistic regression, adjusted for potential confounders.


Self-reported childhood total sun exposure was not associated with melanoma overall, but was positively associated with melanoma diagnosed at 18–29 years of age (OR for highest vs. lowest quartile: 3.21, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.38–7.44; P trend 0.02; P interaction by age group 0.09). Analyses restricted to participants whose self-reported sun exposure was concordant with that recalled by their parents gave an OR for the highest versus lowest tertile of childhood total sun exposure of 2.28 (95% CI 1.03–5.04; P trend 0.05), and for any versus no severe childhood sunburn of 2.36 (95% CI 1.05–5.31). The association of self-reported severe sunburn with melanoma was evident only in people who tended to tan rather than burn and in people who had few nevi.


The association of early-life sun exposure with early-onset melanoma is influenced by host factors.


Melanoma Sun exposure Early-onset Sunburn 






We gratefully acknowledge all of the participants, the work and dedication of the research coordinators, interviewers, examiners and data management staff, including Judith Maskiell, Jackie Arbuckle, Steven Columbus, Michaela Lang, Helen Rodais, Caroline Ellis (Centre for MEGA Epidemiology, School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia); Elizabeth A Holland, Chantelle Agha-Hamilton, Carol El Hayek, Lynne Morgan, Joanne Roland, Emma Tyler, Jodi Barton, Caroline Watts and Lesley Porter (Westmead Institute of Cancer Research, University of Sydney at Westmead Millennium Institute and Melanoma Institute Australia, Sydney, Australia); Jodie Jetann, Megan Ferguson, Michelle Hillcoat, Kellie Holland, Pamela Saunders, Joan Roberts and Sheree Tait (Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer Control, Cancer Council Queensland, Spring Hill, Brisbane, Australia); Anil Kurien, Clare Patterson, Caroline Thoo, Sally de Zwaan, Angelo Sklavos, Shobhan Manoharan, Jenny Cahill and Sarah Brennand (skin examiners). This work was supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) (project grants 566946, 107359, 211172 and program grant number 402761 to GJM and RFK); the Cancer Council New South Wales (project grant 77/00, 06/10), the Cancer Council Victoria and the Cancer Council Queensland (project grant 371); and the US National Institutes of Health (via RO1 grant CA-83115-01A2 to the international Melanoma Genetics Consortium—GenoMEL). AEC is the recipient of a NHMRC public health postdoctoral fellowship (520018), a Cancer Institute NSW Early Career Development Fellowship (10/ECF/2-06) and a Victorian Cancer Agency Early Career Seed Grant (ECSG07_010). BKA’s research is supported by a University of Sydney Medical Foundation Program Grant and JLH is an Australia Fellow of the NHMRC.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne E. Cust
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mark A. Jenkins
    • 1
  • Chris Goumas
    • 2
  • Bruce K. Armstrong
    • 2
  • Helen Schmid
    • 3
  • Joanne F. Aitken
    • 4
  • Graham G. Giles
    • 1
    • 5
  • Richard F. Kefford
    • 3
  • John L. Hopper
    • 1
  • Graham J. Mann
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic and Analytic (MEGA) Epidemiology, Melbourne School of Population HealthUniversity of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.Cancer Epidemiology and Services Research (CESR), Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney Medical SchoolThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Westmead Institute for Cancer Research, Millennium Institute and Melanoma Institute AustraliaUniversity of Sydney at WestmeadSydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Viertel Centre for Research in Cancer ControlCancer Council QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  5. 5.Cancer Epidemiology CentreCancer Council VictoriaMelbourneAustralia

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