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Sedentary men and women had a 56% and 72%, respectively, higher incidence of melanomas than those exercising 5-7 days/wk. Exercising < 4 days/wk provided no protection from melanomas. For 2002, the American Cancer Society estimates total melanoma cases to be 58,300 and deaths to be 9600. Based on this information, we estimate that if the 70% of the sedentary population were to undertake moderate-intensity physical activity 5 or more days per week, then up to 13,454 premature cases and 2215 premature deaths could be additionally prevented.

Biochemical/Cellular Mechanisms

Shors et al state that the mechanisms for the effect of exercise are unknown, but they suggest several avenues for additional research of the physical inactivity-melanoma association, including:

-     Various metabolic effects which may arise from inactivity, such as hormonal effects and depressed immune function

-     Inactivity-induced increases in BMI, as an increased body weight has been shown to explain some, but not all, of the exercise effect on melanoma risk.

Currently, little information is available describing cellular mechanisms.