Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

A population-based case–control study of diet and melanoma risk in northern Italy

Marco Vincetia1 c1, Giovanni Pellacania2, Carlotta Malagolia3, Stefania Bassissia2, Sabina Sieria3, Francesca Bonvicinia1, Vittorio Krogha3 and Stefania Seidenaria2

a1 Department of Public Health Sciences University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Campi 287, I-41100 Modena, Italy

a2 Department of Dermatology, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Del Pozzo 71, I-41100 Modena, Italy

a3 Department of Epidemiology, National Cancer Institute, Via Venezian 1, I-20133 Milan, Italy


Objective We aimed at examining the association between dietary constituents and risk of cutaneous melanoma.

Design In an area of northern Italy we recruited 59 newly diagnosed melanoma patients and 59 age- and sex-matched population controls, to whom we administered a validated semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire.

Results We found an excess risk of melanoma in subjects with a higher energy-adjusted intake of total polyunsaturated fatty acids and, in particular, of linoleic acid (relative risk = 2.16 for intake in the highest tertile compared with the lowest tertile, P for linear trend = 0.061). Conversely, disease risk was inversely associated with the consumption of soluble carbohydrates (relative risk = 0.34 for intake in the upper vs. the lowest tertile adjusting for total energy intake, P for linear trend = 0.046). No other dietary factors, including alcohol, vitamins and trace elements, correlated with melanoma risk. The association of melanoma risk with linoleic acid and soluble carbohydrates intakes was further strengthened in multivariate analysis, and when analysis was limited to females.

Conclusions Overall, these results indicate that an excess energy-adjusted intake of linoleic acid and a lower consumption of soluble carbohydrates may increase melanoma risk.

(Received October 20 2004)

(Accepted May 10 2005)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email