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Marathoners Risk More Skin Cancers

Posted: November 21, 2006

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In the study, the researchers evaluated 210 marathon runners, men and women, aged 19 to 71.

They compared the runners' skin cancer risks with those of 210 men and women matched for age and gender who were not long-distance runners.

All participants underwent a skin cancer exam and answered questions about personal and family skin cancer history, as well as changes in skin lesions, sunburn history, sun sensitivity, and physical characteristics such as skin and eye color.

Even though more of the nonrunners had higher sun sensitivity, reflected by their light eyes and sensitive skin types, the runners had more atypical moles and more lesions called solar lentigines—often called "liver spots"—which are associated with a higher risk of malignant melanoma.

Not surprisingly, the more intense the training regimen, the more likely a marathon runner was to have the lesions and moles, Ambros-Rudolph found. While some runners logged about 25 miles a week, others put in more than 44 miles a week.