A large study of US adults published in Cancer Causes & Control suggests that people who eat higher levels of fish are more likely to get melanoma.

Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the USA and the risk of developing it is one in 38 for white people, one in 1,000 for black people and one in 167 for Hispanic people. The results of previous studies investigating associations between fish intake and melanoma risk have not been consistent. There is an association that needs further investigation.

Those with a median daily intake of 42.8 grams were 22% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than those with a median daily intake of 3.2 grams. Those who had a median daily intake of 42.8 grams of fish had a 28% increased risk of developing stage 0 melanoma or melanoma in situ, compared to those who had a median daily intake of 3.2 grams of fish. 140 grams of fish is a portion of fish.

The authors looked at the data collected from 499,361 adults who were recruited from across the USA to theNIH-AARP Diet and Health Study between 1995 and 1996. Participants, who were aged 62 years on average, reported how often they ate fried fish, non- fried fish, and tuna during the previous year.

The incidence of new melanomas was calculated using data from cancer registries. They accounted for sociodemographic factors, as well as participants' body mass index, physical activity levels, smoking history, daily intake of alcohol, caffeine and calories, and the average UV radiation levels in their local area.

The higher the intake of non- fried fish and tuna, the higher the risk of melanoma. Those with a median daily tuna intake of 14.2 grams had a 20% higher risk of melanoma and a 17% higher risk of stage 0 melanoma than those with a median daily tuna intake of 0.2 grams. A median intake of 17.8 grams of non-fried fish per day was associated with an 18% higher risk of malignant melanoma and a 25% higher risk of stage 0 melanoma. There was no correlation between fried fish consumption and the risk of melanoma.

Eunyoung Cho said that they think the findings could be related to pollutants in fish, like polychlorinated biphenyls, dioxins, arsenic and mercury. According to previous research, higher fish intake is associated with higher levels of these contaminants within the body and has been linked to a higher risk of skin cancer. Further research is needed to confirm the relationship between the concentrations of these pollutants in participants' bodies and our study.

The observational nature of the study does not allow for a correlation between fish intake and melanoma risk. mole count, hair colour, history of severe sunburn and sun-related behaviours were not accounted for in their analyses. The average daily fish intake was calculated at the beginning of the study.

Future research is needed to investigate the components of fish that could contribute to the observed association between fish intake and melanoma risk, according to the authors. They don't think it's a good idea to change fish consumption.

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