The Mediterranean diet (MD) has been reported to be associated with lower cancer risk. However, while previous studies explored major single components of the MD, only 1 previous study has investigated adherence to the MD in relation to melanoma risk.
The aim of this study was to explore the relations between adherence to the MD and the risk of skin cancer, including melanomas, basal cell carcinomas (BCCs), and squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs).
Etude Epidémiologique auprès de femmes de la Mutuelle Générale de l’Education Nationale (E3N) is a prospective cohort of 98,995 French women aged 40-65 y in 1990. Dietary data were collected via a validated food questionnaire in 1993. Adherence to the MD was assessed using a 9-unit dietary score that incorporates intakes of fruit, vegetables, legumes, cereal products, olive oil, fish, dairy products, meat products, and alcohol. We used Cox proportional hazards regression models to compute HRs and 95% CIs adjusted for age and main known skin cancer risk factors.
From 1993 to 2008, a total of 2003 skin cancer cases were ascertained among 67,332 women, including 404 melanomas, 1367 BCCs, and 232 SCCs. Score of adherence to the MD was associated with lower risk of skin cancer (HR: 0.83; 95% CI: 0.73, 0.93 for high compared with low score, Ptrend = 0.001). MD score was also inversely and linearly associated with risks of melanoma (HR: 0.72; 95% CI: 0.54, 0.96; Ptrend = 0.02) and BCC (HR: 0.77; 95% CI: 0.66, 0.90; Ptrend = 0.0006) but not SCC (HR: 1.08; 95% CI: 0.75, 1.55; Ptrend = 0.68), although with no heterogeneity across skin cancer types (Pheterogeneity = 0.23).
These findings suggest that adherence to the MD is associated with a lower skin cancer risk in women, particularly melanoma and BCC. If confirmed in future research, these findings may have important implications in skin cancer prevention.