MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lori A. Crane, PhD
Department of Community and Behavioral Health
Colorado School of Public Health
University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus,
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Nevi, which are commonly called “moles”, are brown or black spots on the skin that are usually raised. Moles are the number one risk factor for malignant melanoma, the most dangerous kind of skin cancer. About 9,000 people die of melanoma each year in the U.S. The more moles a person has, the higher their risk for melanoma. Sun exposure is a major factor in the development of moles, and in order to prevent melanoma, it is important to better understand how moles are formed on the skin.
Most moles are formed during childhood and adolescence. We studied non-Hispanic and Hispanic white children age 3-16 and found that non-Hispanic children developed many more moles than Hispanic children. Overall, boys developed more moles than girls, but there were some important differences. For parts of the skin that are often covered by clothing but sometimes exposed to the sun, such as the chest and back, upper arms and upper legs, girls developed more moles than boys, especially among Hispanic children. In contrast, for parts of the skin that are usually exposed to the sun, such as the face, boys developed many more moles than girls. The development of moles leveled off by age 16 for parts of the skin usually exposed to the sun, while for the less often exposed skin, children continued to develop moles to age 16.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: The patterns of mole development are similar to patterns for development of melanoma. Men are at higher risk for melanoma than women, and non-Hispanic whites are at higher risk than Hispanic whites. Clothing patterns of boys compared to girls may explain differences in patterns of mole development. Girls may develop more moles on the trunk and chest because of types of clothing worn in warm weather and for swimming, or because girls are more likely to seek out a tan.
The study underscores the need for sun protection during childhood and adolescence, using clothing, shade, hats, and sunscreen, to prevent over-exposure to the sun. Special emphasis should be put on sun protection for boys, because they develop more moles overall, and because men have higher rates of melanoma than women.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Future research should examine how mole development varies over time by level of exposure to the sun, and use of sun protection, including sunscreen, hats, clothing and shade. Additionally, research is needed on the prevention of mole development.
Asdigian NL, Barón AE, Morelli JG, et al. Trajectories of Nevus Development From Age 3 to 16 Years in the Colorado Kids Sun Care Program Cohort. JAMA Dermatol. Published online September 12, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2018.3027
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