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    Monday, November 20, 2006

    Marathon Moles: So, marathon runners have more skin cancer than gym rats:

    White marathon runners seem to face an increased risk of skin cancer because of long sun exposure, Austrian researchers report.

    ....They recruited 210 marathon runners for their study and matched them for age and sex with 210 other people they signed up at five recreation centers in Austria. All 420 people were screened by a dermatologist.

    The marathon runners had more abnormal moles and lesions, and 24 were referred for surgical treatment, while there were 14 treatment referrals among the non-marathoners.

    The highest rate of referral for treatment, 19 percent, was among the marathoners who trained the most, more than 43.5 miles per week.

    The results of the marathoners who were referred for treatment were not available. None of the lesions in either group looked like malignant melanoma, a more serious but less common form of skin cancer. The lesions appeared to be non-melanoma cancers, the most common type of skin cancer.

    Since the research was on white marathoners, it's unclear if the findings would apply to blacks, who are less prone to skin cancer than whites.

    I wonder how they compare to swimmers? California swimmers, not Austrian swimmers. Probably about the same, since it all might boil down to the tan:

    Nieman said some marathon runners take pride in bronzed, leathery skin — proof that they put in their training miles.

    "If someone shows up at a race and they're lily white, I've seen other runners make fun of those guys," he said.

    It is better to look good than to feel good, after all.

    posted by Sydney on 11/20/2006 09:59:00 PM 4 comments


    Well, all those years of college, residency and 60-hour work weeks did me a lot of favors in the skin department. My friends with a bit more leisurely lifestyle are really starting to show it.

    Notice I left out med school- I think 4 years of road biking North Country San Diego did have a little impact. But, if one has to suffer through med school, that's the place to do it!

    By Anonymous danie, at 5:12 AM  

    It'd be more interesting if instead of skin leisions and referral they compared total cancer incidence (both skin and non-skin to allow for beneficial effect of vitamin D that appeared in some literature during recent years). I guess, it'd be more difficult since these people are relatively young and healthy and would require more people and longer period of follow-up. Still it'd be interesting.

    This is from someone who ordered sunscreen with Mexoryl from France even before it was made available in the US. So, I am not arguing for running marathons outside, I am just interested.

    By Anonymous Diora, at 11:41 AM  

    diora, that's a great point. One of the dangers of focused studies like this is that it leaves out other potential benefits of sunshine (or other independent variables). My state leads the nation in melanoma rates, and we had a visiting epidemiologist come and lecture us on sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. When I asked if that wouldn't increase the risk of colon cancer, which causes more deaths than melanoma, she gave me a blank look. Clearly, she did not know of the connection.

    Maybe Aristotle's Golden Mean applies to more than meets the eye.

    That't another benefit of beingl in San Diego, a lot of that original work in vitamin D and cancer was done there- I remember hearing a lecture about it way back in the late 80's.

    By Anonymous danie, at 9:46 AM  

    colon cancer? Not familiar with that one.

    By Anonymous Dara, at 4:15 PM  

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