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Melanoma Markers in Marathon Runners: Increase with Sun Exposure and Physical Strain

Richtig E.a · Ambros-Rudolph C.M.a · Trapp M.b · Lackner H.K.c · Hofmann-Wellenhof R.a · Kerl H.a · Schwaberger G.b
aDepartment of Dermatology and bInstitute of Physiology, Medical University of Graz, and cInstitute of Medical Engineering, Graz University of Technology, Graz, Austria Dermatology 2008;217:38–44 (DOI:10.1159/000121473)


Background: Marathon runners seem to have an increased melanoma risk. Objective: To identify potential melanoma markers. Methods: 150 marathon runners volunteered to take part in the skin cancer screening campaign. After the runners completed a questionnaire about melanoma risk factors, types of sportswear and training programs, they received a total skin examination. The number of lentigines and nevi on the left shoulder and the left buttock were counted in each participant using templates in standardized positions. The potential association of training sportswear and training parameters with the number of lentigines and nevi on the left shoulder was evaluated. Results: The mean number of lentigines on the left shoulder was 19.6 ± 18.2 (SD), whereas no lentigines were found on the left buttock (p = 0.000). The number of nevi also differed significantly between the 2 localizations with higher numbers on the left shoulder (p = 0.000). While lifetime sunburn history and type of sportswear correlated with the number of lentigines, training parameters had an impact on the number of nevi. Independent of their mean weekly running time, runners with higher heart rates while training, higher training velocities and higher physical strain indexes showed more nevi on the shoulder than the other runners (p = 0.029, 0.046, 0.038, respectively). Conclusion: Sun exposure and high physical strain lead to an increase in melanoma markers such as lentigines and nevi in marathon runners.


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