Drinking linked to higher risk of melanoma

February 3, 2014

Drinking alcohol regularly may increase risk of developing melanoma by up to 55 percent, according to a new study.

 

Drinking alcohol regularly may increase risk of developing melanoma by up to 55 percent, according to a new study.

Researchers from Italy, Sweden, the United States, Iran and France conducted a meta-analysis of the results of more than 6,200 cases of melanoma from 16 previous investigations, according to a news release. The researchers found that moderate-to-heavy alcohol use, defined as more than 12.5 grams of ethanol per day, increases the risk of melanoma by 20 percent. Little research has been done on the melanoma risks of heavy of drinking - defined as more than 50g of ethanol per day - but researchers found that the risk increased proportionately with the amount of alcohol consumed, which led to the estimated 55 percent greater risk of melanoma.

“This is an interesting study, and I think it is important that dermatologists keep well informed on the latest research and potential risk factors relating to skin cancer so that they can pass on this information to their patients,” Professor Chris Bunker, president of the British Association of Dermatologists, tells Dermatology Times. “Prevention is better than cure, and understanding how to minimize risk is very important.”

Past studies have shown that alcohol use can increase the severity of sunburn - a major risk factor for all kinds of skin cancer, including melanoma. Alcohol also can affect behavior, which can lead to staying out in the sun too long or failure to apply appropriate sunscreen.

The authors noted that more research needs to be done, especially in correlating heavy drinking with melanoma.

The findings were published in the British Journal of Dermatology.