The association between non-melanoma skin cancer and osteoporotic fractures - a population-based record linkage study

Velandai Srikanth, Jayne L Fryer, Alison Venn, Leigh Blizzard, L Newman, Helen Cooley, T Albion, Graeme Jones

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We studied the association between osteoporotic fractures and prior non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC, a biomarker for cumulative sun exposure). The risk of prior NMSC in our fracture cohort was significantly reduced (standardised incidence ratio 0.69, 95 CI 0.61, 0.78). Adequate lifetime sun exposure may be necessary to protect against osteoporotic fractures in later life. Introduction The relationship between cumulative sun exposure and osteoporotic fractures is uncertain. We aimed to study the association between non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC), a marker of cumulative sun exposure, and osteoporotic fractures in an older cohort. Methods A retrospective cohort study in southern Tasmania in people aged at least 50 years with incident radiographic fracture (n=2,283) was carried out. By record linkage to the Tasmanian Cancer Registry the cohort was followed backwards through time until the occurrence of NMSC or end-of follow-up. Relative risk was estimated by the standardised incidence ratio (SIR) using sex-, age- and calendar year-specific cancer incidence rates in southern Tasmania as reference. Results The incidence of prior NMSC in the fracture cohort was 31 lower than for the general population (SIR 0.69, 95 CI 0.61, 0.78). This effect was significant for most fracture subtypes except pelvic and wrist fractures and observed for both NMSC subtypes, squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma. Conclusions Older people with osteoporotic fractures may have had lifestyles linked to lower cumulative sunlight exposure. Achieving a balance between adequate lifetime sun exposure and protection against its adverse effects (such as fractures and skin cancer) may require assessment of individual risks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687 - 692
Number of pages6
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2007

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