Melanoma and it's Link to Height, Weight, Exercise


Photo: Melanoma on the skin.  Melanoma has been shown to correlate with height, weight an exercise.

Photo Credit:                      Terence O’Grady, M.D.                  School of Medicine                  UCSD 

A study in 2001 entitled Melanoma Risk in Relation to Height, Weight, and Exercise (United States) by Andrew Shors, Cam Solomon, Anne McTiernan and Emily White found that there is a positive correlation between height, weight and weekly exercise and melanoma risk. The authors speculated that an increased weight and height increases the amount of skin cells on the body surface that can possibly become cancerous. Weight explained some, but not all, of the correlation between risk of developing melanoma and weekly exercise. 

Although not very prevalent, melanoma is the most dangerous skin cancer.  It occurs when melanocytes, cells that produce skin-darkening melanin, become malignant. Unless detected early, it is almost always incurable. Unfortunately, melanoma rates have been increasing in the general population. For these reasons, understanding, preventing and curing melanoma is a top medical priority.   

In the aforementioned study, melanoma risk was found to correlate with commonly known risk factors: age, light hair color and skin color, freckles, and tanning ability. This was the first study to provide a correlation between exercise and melanoma risk. The authors theorized that exercise may reduce melanoma risk through two pathways: reducing BMI as mentioned above and by metabolic effects like strengthening the immune system and influencing various hormones' production.

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