Estimates of the current and future burden of melanoma attributable to ultraviolet radiation in Canada Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is an established cause of cutaneous melanoma. The purpose of this study was to estimate the current attributable and future avoidable burden of melanoma related to exposure to UVR and modifiable UVR risk behaviors (sunburn, sunbathing, and indoor tanning). The population attributable risk (PAR) associated with UVR in 2015 was estimated by comparing Canadian melanoma incidence rates in 2015 to estimated incidence rates of a 1920 birth cohort. Rates were adjusted for changes in reporting and ethnicity. We estimated PARs for modifiable UVR risk behaviors using Caucasian prevalence data from the Second National Sun Survey and relative risks that are generalizable to Canada from meta-analyses of relevant studies. Attributable cases apply to 98.9% of melanomas in Canada that occur in Caucasians. We also estimated the future burden of UVR risk behaviors using the potential impact fraction framework and potential reductions in prevalence of 10% to 50% from 2018 to 2042. Adult sunburn and sunbathing were associated with increased risks of melanoma of 1.28 (95% CI: 1.15, 1.43) and 1.44 (95% CI: 1.18, 1.76), respectively. In 2015, we estimate that 62.3% of melanomas in Canada were attributable to exposure to UVR and that 29.7% were attributable to the combination of sunburn (7.4%), sunbathing (17.8%), and indoor tanning (7.0%). A 50% reduction in modifiable UVR behaviors could avoid an estimated 11,980 melanoma cases by 2042. Prevention strategies aimed at modifiable UVR behaviors are crucial to reduce the growing burden of melanoma in Canada.


  • O'Sullivan, Dylan E
  • Brenner, Darren R
  • Villeneuve, Paul J
  • Walter, Stephen
  • Demers, Paul A
  • Friedenreich, Christine M
  • King, Will D

publication date

  • May 2019