Cookies on this website
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Continue' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Recent advances in estimating the density of cutaneous melanin by spectrophotometry and the concentration of the two types of melanin (eumelanin and phaeomelanin) in hair offer the potential to define the risk of skin cancer in individuals more accurately. The presence of common melanocytic naevi on the arm is associated with an increased risk of melanoma, and in this study the associations of arm naevi with melanin density at the upper inner arm and with melanin type in hair samples were examined in a representative sample (n = 267) of 19-20 year olds of northern European ancestry. Particularly in men, the association with naevus count was stronger for cutaneous melanin density than for follicular melanin type. Adjusted for recreational sun exposure, the rank correlation coefficients were r = -0.25, 0.12 and 0.01 for men, and r = -0.17, -0.12 and 0.14 for women, for cutaneous melanin, hair eumelanin and hair phaeomelanin, respectively. The associations with less objective markers of phenotype (hair colour, eye colour, nurse-assessed skin colour, and self-reported skin reaction to unaccustomed sun) were weaker. These findings provide important new information that human susceptibility to mutations of melanocytes can be estimated by objective biological measures. The next step is to determine whether these measures also predict the risk of melanoma.


Journal article


Melanoma Res

Publication Date





387 - 394


Adolescent, Adult, Cohort Studies, Europe, European Continental Ancestry Group, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Image Processing, Computer-Assisted, Male, Melanins, Nevus, Pigmented, Predictive Value of Tests, Risk Factors, Skin, Skin Neoplasms, Spectrophotometry, Tasmania