Teenage acne and cancer risk in US women: A prospective cohort study

Mingfeng Zhang, Abrar A. Qureshi, Renée T. Fortner, Susan E. Hankinson, Qingyi Wei, Li E. Wang, A. Heather Eliassen, Walter C. Willett, David J. Hunter, Jiali Han

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19 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND Acne reflects hormone imbalance and is a key component of several systemic diseases. We hypothesized that diagnosis of acne as a teenager might predict subsequent risk of hormone-related cancers. METHODS We followed 99,128 female nurses in the Nurses' Health Study II cohort for 20 years (1989-2009) and used Cox proportional hazards models to estimate the hazard ratios (HRs) of 8 specific cancers (breast, thyroid, colorectal, ovarian, cervical, and endometrial cancers, melanoma, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma) for women with a history of severe teenage acne. RESULTS After thoroughly adjusting for the previously known risk factors for each cancer, we found that among women with a history of severe teenage acne, the relative risk increased, with a multivariable-adjusted HR of 1.44 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-2.01) for melanoma. We replicated this association in an independent melanoma case-control study of 930 cases and 1026 controls (multivariable-adjusted odds ratio, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.03-1.56). We also found that in both studies the individuals with teenage acne were more likely to have moles (52.7% vs 50.1%, P < .001 in the cohort study; and 55.2% vs 45.1%, P = .004 in the case-control study). CONCLUSIONS Our findings suggest that a history of teenage acne might be a novel risk factor for melanoma independent from the known factors, which supports a need for continued investigation of these relationships. Cancer 2015;121:1681-1687.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1681-1687
Number of pages7
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • acne
  • androgen
  • cancer
  • melanoma
  • mole
  • telomere length

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research

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    Zhang, M., Qureshi, A. A., Fortner, R. T., Hankinson, S. E., Wei, Q., Wang, L. E., Eliassen, A. H., Willett, W. C., Hunter, D. J., & Han, J. (2015). Teenage acne and cancer risk in US women: A prospective cohort study. Cancer, 121(10), 1681-1687. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.29216