Background: Depletion of the ozone layer has meant that ambient ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has increased in recent decades. At the same time, the incidence of skin cancers, including melanoma, has risen. The relatively few large-scale studies that linked ambient UVR to melanoma found a trend toward rising incidence closer to the equator, where UVR estimates are highest. Similar research has not been conducted in Canada, where ambient UVR is generally lower than in countries further south. Data and methods: Modelled UVR data for the months of June through August during the 1980-to-1990 period were spatially linked in Geographic Information Systems to 2.4 million white members of the 1991 Canadian Census Health and Environment Cohort and tracked for melanoma diagnosis over an 18-year period (1992 to 2009). Standard Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate melanoma risk associated with increases of ambient summer UVR, assigned by residence at baseline. Models were adjusted for age, sex and socioeconomic (SES) characteristics. Separate analyses by body site of melanoma were conducted. Effect modification of the association between ambient UVR and melanoma by sex, age, outdoor occupation and selected SES characteristics was evaluated. Results: Differences of one standard deviation (446 J/m2 or 7%) in average ambient summer UVR were associated with an increased hazard ratio (HR) for melanoma of 1.22 (95% CI: 1.19 to 1.25) when adjusting for sex, age and SES characteristics. The HR for melanoma in relative UVR (per 1 standard deviation) was larger for men (HR = 1.26; 95% CI: 1.21 to 1.30) than for women (HR = 1.17; 95% CI: 1.13 to 1.22). Interpretation: Ambient summer UVR is associated with a greater risk of melanoma among the white population, even in a country where most people live within a narrow latitudinal belt. A stronger association between melanoma and ambient UVR was evident among men and among people of lower SES.

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Keywords CanCHEC, Census, Medical record linkage, Skin cancer, Skin neoplasms, Sunburn, Sunlight
Journal Health Reports
Pinault, L. (Lauren), Bushnik, T. (Tracey), Fioletov, V. (Vitali), Peters, C.E. (Cheryl E.), King, W.D. (Will D.), & Tjepkema, M. (Michael). (2017). The risk of melanoma associated with ambient summer ultraviolet radiation. Health Reports, 28(5), 3–11.

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