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Teenage acne and cancer risk in US women: A prospective cohort study.

Authors: Mingfeng M. Zhang, Abrar A AA. Qureshi, Renée T RT. Fortner, Susan E SE. Hankinson, Qingyi Q. Wei, Li-E LE. Wang, A Heather AH. Eliassen, Walter C WC. Willett, David J DJ. Hunter, Jiali J. Han
Published: 01/08/2015, Cancer


Acne reflects hormone imbalance and is a key component of several systemic diseases. We hypothesized that diagnosis of acne as a teenager might predict subsequent risk of hormone-related cancers.


We followed 99,128 female nurses in the Nurses' Health Study II cohort for 20 years (1989-2009) and used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the hazard ratios (HRs) of 8 specific cancers (breast, thyroid, colorectal, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma) for women with a history of severe teenage acne.


After thoroughly adjusting for the previously known risk factors for each cancer, we found that among women with a history of severe teenage acne, the relative risk increased, with a multivariable-adjusted HR of 1.44 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-2.01) for melanoma. We replicated this association in an independent melanoma case-control study of 930 cases and 1026 controls (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.03-1.56). We also found that in both studies the individuals with teenage acne were more likely to have moles (52.7% vs 50.1%, P < .001 in the cohort study; and 55.2% vs 45.1%, P = .004 in the case-control study).


Our findings suggest that a history of teenage acne might be a novel risk factor for melanoma independent from the known factors, which supports a need for continued investigation of these relationships.

© 2015 American Cancer Society.
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