Although sunburn and intermittent sun exposures are associated with increased melanoma risk, most studies have found null or inverse associations between occupational (more continuous pattern) sun exposure and melanoma risk. The association of melanoma with occupational sun exposure may differ according to anatomical site, with some studies finding a positive association with melanoma on the head and neck. We examined the association between occupational sun exposure (self-reported weekday sun exposure) and melanoma risk according to anatomical site, using data from two multicentre population-based case-control studies: the Australian Melanoma Family Study (588 cases, 472 controls) and the Genes, Environment and Melanoma study (GEM; 1079 cases, 2,181 controls). Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate odds ratios (OR) and their 95% confidence intervals, adjusting for potential confounders. Occupational sun exposure was not positively associated with melanoma risk overall or at different body sites in both studies. The GEM study found inverse associations between occupational sun exposure and melanoma on the head and neck [OR for highestvs. lowest quartile: 0.56, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 0.36–0.86,ptrend 0.02], and between the proportion of total sun exposure occurring on weekdays and melanoma on the upper limbs (OR for highestvs. lowest quartile: 0.66, 95% CI 0.42–1.02,ptrend 0.03). Our results suggest that occupational sun exposure does not increase risk of melanoma, even of melanomas situated on the head and neck. This finding seemed not to be due to negative confounding of occupational sun exposure by weekend sun.What's new?
While sunburn and intermittent sun exposure are clearly associated with an increased risk of melanoma, there is little evidence for a similar association with continuous, occupational sun exposure. In this study, the authors analysed the association between occupational sun exposure and melanoma risk according to anatomical site. Their results suggest that occupational sun exposure does not increase-risk of melanoma at any site, including the head and neck. Clarifying these associations is important for framing and targeting sun-protection messages.