The cat i' the adage

"The growth of knowledge depends entirely on disagreement" Karl Popper (1902 - 1994)

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Exposure to sunlight improves skin cancer survival

This is one to upset the killjoys who have us running indoors every time the sun comes out: it looks as if exposure to the sun not only increases the incidence of melanoma, as we have had drummed into us for some time, but it also improves prospects of survival from melanoma; or as the authors of the paper in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute put it "Melanoma incidence and survival are positively associated, both geographically and temporally".

This is from the summary at EurekaAlert!

Three measures of sun exposure--sunburn, high intermittent sun exposure, and solar elastosis (an indicator of the skin's sun damage)--and a personal history of skin awareness (a measure of early detection) were all inversely associated with death from melanoma. Melanoma patients with higher levels of sun exposure or skin awareness were less likely to die. In addition, both solar elastosis and skin awareness were independently associated with increased survival from melanoma, even after adjusting for certain melanoma characteristics, such as lesion thickness and location. The authors conclude that sun exposure is associated with increased survival from melanoma.

For some time I have been puzzled by the fact that deaths from melanoma have not been increasing, while the complaint itself has become much more common. Now we have a plausible explanation.


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