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Residential and occupational exposure to sunlight and mortality from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma: composite (threefold) case-control study

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7092.1451 (Published 17 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1451
  1. D Michal Freedman, fellowa,
  2. Shelia Hoar Zahm, epidemiologistb,
  3. Mustafa Dosemeci, industrial hygienistb
  1. a Division of Cancer Prevention and Control National Cancer Institute EPN-240J Rockville MD 20892-7335 USA
  2. b Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics
  1. Correspondence to: Ms Freedman
  • Accepted 27 February 1997

Abstract

Objective:To determine whether non-Hodgkin's lymphoma mortality is associated with sunlight exposure.

Design:Three case-control studies based on death certificates of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, melanoma, and skin cancer mortality examining associations with potential sunlight exposure from residence and occupation.

Setting:24 states in the United States.

Subjects:All cases were deaths from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, melanoma, and non-melanotic skin cancer between 1984 and 1991. Two age, sex, and race frequency matched controls per case were selected from non-cancer deaths.

Main outcome measures:Odds ratios for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, melanoma, and skin cancer from residential and occupational sunlight exposure adjusted for age, sex, race, socioeconomic status, and farming occupation.

Results:Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma mortality was not positively associated with sunlight exposure based on residence. Both melanoma and skin cancer were positively associated with residential sunlight exposure. Adjusted odds ratios for residing in states with the highest sunlight exposure were 0.83 (95% confidence interval 0.81 to 0.86) for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, 1.12 (1.06 to 1.19) for melanoma, and 1.30 (1.18 to 1.43) for skin cancer. In addition, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma mortality was not positively associated with occupational sunlight exposure (odds ratio 0.88; 0.81 to 0.96). Skin cancer was slightly positively associated with occupational sunlight exposure (1.14; 0.96 to 1.36).

Conclusions:Unlike skin cancer and to some extent melanoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma mortality was not positively associated with exposure to sunlight. The findings do not therefore support the hypothesis that sunlight exposure contributes to the rising rates of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Key messages

  • The incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma has risen rapidly in recent decades throughout much of the world

  • Several investigators have hypothesised that increased exposure to sunlight may contribute to this rising incidence

  • A study in the United States found that sunlight exposure based on residence and occupation was not positively associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

  • The study found no evidence to support the hypothesis that sunlight contributes to the rising rates of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

Footnotes

    • Accepted 27 February 1997
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