Having a history of teenage acne is associated with an increased risk of melanoma, independent of known risk factors, according to a study published in Cancer.

Mingfeng Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues followed 99,128 female nurses in the Nurses’ Health Study II cohort for 20 years to examine the risks of eight specific cancers for women with a history of severe teenage cancer.

The researchers found that among women with a history of severe teenage acne, there was an increased relative risk for melanoma (multivariate-adjusted hazard ratio, 1.44) after full adjustment for previous known risk factors for each cancer.

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This association was replicated in an independent melanoma case-control study involving 930 cases and 1,026 controls (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio, 1.27). In both studies, the likelihood of having moles was increased for those with teenage acne (P < 0.001 in the cohort study and P = 0.004 in the case-control study).

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“In summary, we identify a history of teenage acne as a novel risk factor for melanoma independent of previously identified risk factors,” the authors write.

“Our findings support a need for continued investigation of the relationship between acne and hormone-related cancers.”


  1. Zhang, Mingfeng, MD, PhD, et al. “Teenage acne and cancer risk in US women: A prospective cohort study.” Cancer. DOI: 10.1002/cncr.29216. [epub ahead of print]. January 6, 2015.