It has been suggested that diet may influence the risk of melanoma, but few studies are available on this topic. We assessed the relation between food consumption and the risk of cutaneous melanoma in a Northern Italy population. We carried out a population-based case-control study involving 380 cases of melanoma and 719 age- and sex-matched controls. Dietary habits were established through a self-administered semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. We computed the odds ratios (ORs) of melanoma and the corresponding 95% confidence intervals (CIs) according to tertiles of daily intake of each food item, using multiple logistic regression models adjusted for major confounding factors. We observed an indication of a positive association between melanoma risk and consumption of cereals and cereal products (OR = 1.32; 95% CI 0.89–1.96, higher vs. lowest tertile), sweets (OR = 1.22; 95% CI 0.84–1.76), chocolate, candy bars. etc., (OR = 1.51; 95% CI 1.09–2.09) and cabbages (OR = 1.51; 95% CI 1.09–2.09). Conversely, an inverse association with disease risk was found for the intake of legumes (OR = 0.77; 95% CI 0.52–1.13), olive oil (OR = 0.77; 95% CI 0.51–1.16), eggs (OR = 0.58; 95% CI 0.41–0.82), and onion and garlic (OR = 0.80; 95% CI 0.52–1.14). No relationship was observed with beverage consumption. Our results suggest potentially adverse effects on melanoma risk of foods characterized by high contents of refined flours and sugars, while suggesting a protective role for eggs and two key components of the Mediterranean diet, legumes and olive oil. These associations warrant further investigation and, if confirmed, they might have important public health implications for the reduction of melanoma incidence through dietary modification.
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