Atopic dermatitis linked to higher cancer risk

July 6, 2010

Bridgewater, N.J. - Results of a new study suggest that atopic dermatitis may increase the risk of cancer, including melanoma, Reuters Health reports.

Bridgewater, N.J. - Results of a new study suggest that atopic dermatitis may increase the risk of cancer, including melanoma, Reuters Health reports.

Researchers led by Alejandro Arana, M.D., of Risk Management Resources, based here, analyzed the medical records of about 4.5 million people in the United Kingdom and traced their medical histories for an average of nearly seven years.

Investigators found that overall, people without atopic dermatitis were more likely to get cancer than people with the skin condition. But when they looked at specific age groups, researchers found that at every age, the rate of cancer was higher among patients with atopic dermatitis.

That general pattern held when the researchers looked specifically at melanoma, nonmelanoma skin cancer and lymphoma. The age- and gender-adjusted overall incidence rate ratio for overall cancer was 1.49 for patients with atopic dermatitis compared to those without it.

Reuters Health quotes Dr. Arana as saying, “The age-specific risk differences seen in this study are small, but doctors should always be aware of recent investigations and take cancer primary prevention measures in (atopic dermatitis) patients.”

The study, which appeared in the June 9 online issue of the British Journal of Dermatology, was funded by a grant from the pharmaceutical company Novartis. Two of the study’s co-authors are Novartis employees.