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Marathon Runners May Have Higher Skin Cancer Risk

Training and competition schedules should aim to minimize sun exposure

TUESDAY, Nov. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Marathon runners are at a higher risk of developing malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer than the general population because of their longer exposure to the sun, researchers report in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

Christina M. Ambros-Rudolph, M.D., and colleagues at the Medical University of Graz in Austria conducted a study of 210 marathon runners and compared them with controls matched for age and sex (166 men and 44 women aged 19 to 71 years).

Compared with the marathon runners, the controls were more sensitive to sun and among this group melanocytic nevi were more common. However, among the marathon runners there were more cases of atypical melanocytic nevi, solar lentigines and lesions suggestive of non-melanoma skin cancer, and there were more incidences as training intensity increased. Only 56.2 percent of the marathon runners reported using sunscreen and almost all wore clothing that would expose their skin to the sun.

"Until further sport-physiologic studies elucidate in detail the potential association between exercise-induced immunosuppression and malignant melanoma, runners should be alerted to the crucial role of UV radiation in the development of malignant melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer. In particular, they should be advised to reduce UV exposure during exercising by choosing training and competition schedules with low sun exposure," the authors conclude.

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