Other highlights in the October 15 issue of JNCI

December 31, 2000

Study Confirms Risk Factors for Malignant Melanoma

A new study confirms previous findings that hair color, number of moles on the legs, and history of sunburn are risk factors for malignant melanoma. The study also found that the use of sunbeds and other tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of the disease. Marit Veierød, Ph.D., of the University of Oslo in Norway, and colleagues surveyed 106,379 Norwegian and Swedish women between the ages of 30 and 50 about their personal characteristics and exposures. During an average follow-up of 8.1 years, there were 187 cases of melanoma diagnosed among these women. Melanoma risk was associated with increasing body surface area; the number of large asymmetric moles on the legs; having naturally red hair; the number of sunburns per year during the second, third, and fourth decades of life; and use one or more times per month of artificial tanning lights. The authors also note that the strongest effects of UV exposure on melanoma risk appear to be during adolescence and early adulthood.

Low White Cell Counts May Affect Breast Cancer Outcomes Among African American Women

African American women with early-stage breast cancer have lower baseline white blood cell counts and therefore appear to have delays in doses of adjuvant chemotherapy compared with white women with early-stage breast cancer. The treatment delays may explain racial differences in breast cancer survival, authors of a new study suggest. Dawn Hershman, M.D., of the New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York, and her colleagues collected information on 73 African American and 126 matched white women, and of these women, 43 white and 93 African American women had undergone adjuvant chemotherapy. They found that African American women had lower white blood cell counts at baseline and after treatment and required a longer treatment duration (19 weeks versus 15 weeks). "This difference in dose intensity may contribute to the observed disparities in survival between African American women and white women with breast cancer," the researchers write.

Contact: Alicia Park, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, 212-305-5587, alk9007@nyp.org.

SV40 Does Not Appear to Be a Prevalent Human Pathogen, Study Concludes

There is a lack of evidence that simian virus 40 (SV40) is a prevalent human pathogen, a new study concludes. Poliovirus vaccines used between 1955 and 1963 were inadvertently contaminated with SV40. Because SV40 DNA has been detected in tumors from individuals who are too young to have been exposed to SV40 contaminated vaccines, there is a concern that SV40 has become a prevalent human pathogen as a result of human-to-human transmission. Joseph J. Carter and Denise A. Galloway, Ph.D., of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, and colleagues examined the prevalence of SV40 and two related polyomaviruses, JCV and BKV, in serum samples from 212 patients with osteosarcoma or prostate cancer and 487 healthy control subjects. They found that BKV and JCV antibodies were prevalent in all serum samples examined, but only 6.6% of samples had SV40 antibodies, none of which could be confirmed as having authentic SV40 antibodies, but rather appeared to be due to non-specific cross-reaction to one of the other two viruses. The authors conclude that the data do not support the theory that SV40 is a prevalent human pathogen.

Contact: Kristen Woodward, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 206-667-5059, kwoodwar@fhcrc.org.

No Increase in Incidence of Childhood Leukemias in Nordic Countries, Study Finds The incidence of childhood leukemias in Nordic countries has been stable for 20 years, according to a new study. Previous studies from various countries had reported an increasing incidence of childhood leukemias in recent decades. Lisa Lyngsie Hjalgrim, M.D., of the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark, and her colleagues examined a database of approximately 5 million children aged 0-14 years in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland for trends in the incidence of childhood acute leukemia over the last 20 years. They found that the incidence rates of acute myeloid leukemia overall, acute lymphoblastic leukemia overall, and specific acute lymphoblastic leukemia immunophenotypes were remarkably stable in these countries during the past two decades.

Titles of additional articles appearing in the October 15 JNCI:
Note: The Journal of the National Cancer Institute is published by Oxford University Press and is not affiliated with the National Cancer Institute. Attribution to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute is requested in all news coverage.

Journal of the National Cancer Institute

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