Journal Article
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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Sunlight: a major factor associated with the development of melanocytic nevi in Australian schoolchildren.

BACKGROUND: Case-control studies have identified melanocytic nevi (MN) as the most important phenotypic risk factor for melanoma. A knowledge of any environmental factors that cause MN may facilitate prevention of melanoma.

OBJECTIVE: This study was undertaken to explore the possible role of ambient solar irradiation in the development of MN in children.

METHODS: With a standard protocol developed after international consultation, the same medical observers examined children in three Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney, and Townsville) that span a wide range of latitude.

RESULTS: A total of 1123 Australian schoolchildren 6, 9, 12, and 15 years of age were surveyed. Larger numbers of MN were found (mean 65.4 MN, standard deviation 52.9) than in previous studies of children. Prevalence increased with diminishing latitude (51.1 in Melbourne, 66.5 in Sydney and 77.2 in Townsville), particularly in children 6 and 9 years of age. Although nevus numbers were higher in children with light skin and hair, blue eyes, and freckling, the latitude gradient remained after adjustment for these and other factors in multivariate analysis.

CONCLUSION: Latitude of residence, and by implication ambient UV radiation, is strongly related to nevus prevalence in young Australian children. However, these differences diminish with age and may disappear by 15 years of age.

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