Marathon runners may face Skin Cancer risk

Marathon runners face the risk of skin cancer, due to more sun exposure or an immune system inhibited by arduous exercise, researchers said. Dr. Christina Ambros-Rudolph and colleagues at the Medical University of Graz in Austria studied 210 male and female marathon runners and 210 other people of the same age and sex.

The marathon runners were found to have more atypical moles - larger than common moles, with irregular and poorly defined borders. They also had and more so-called liver spots - small, flat, brownish harmless lesions also known as solar lentigines. The number of these moles and liver spots is considered a strong independent indicator of increased risk for developing malignant melanoma.

Writing in the journal Archives of Dermatology, the researchers said this was particularly pronounced in the runners who trained at the highest levels of intensity. The marathon runners had a higher risk for both malignant melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer, the researchers said. Melanoma occurs in the cells that produce pigment and is the leading cause of death from skin disease.

Only 56 per cent of the runners said they regularly used sunscreen. They should reduce UV (ultraviolet radiation) exposure during exercising by choosing training and competition schedules with low sun exposure, wearing adequate clothing, and regularly using water-resistant sunscreens," wrote the research team.

Marathon running has become more popular in recent decades. The researchers said in the course of training and competing outdoors, marathon runners may be exposed to onsiderable ultraviolet radiation from the sun, the foremost risk factor for melanoma.Endurance exercise like running marathons or even-longer "ultra-marathons" might suppress the body's immune system and raise the likelihood of developing malignant melanoma, the team said.