Trace elements and melanoma

Margherita Bergomi, Giovanni Pellacani, Marco Vinceti, Stefania Bassissi, Carlotta Malagoli, Dorothea Alber, Sabina Sieri, Luciano Vescovi, Stefania Seidenari, Roberto Vivoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Melanoma incidence has been steadily increasing in recent years in most western countries, thus suggesting a role of environmental risk factors. Among these determinants, it has been hypothesized that some trace elements of nutritional and toxicological interest may be implicated in the etiology of the disease. We examined patients with newly diagnosed melanoma of the skin and population controls from the Modena province northern Italy. Clinical and dietary data were collected through questionnaires, and toenails were sampled for trace element determination. Levels of cadmium, chromium, lead, selenium, zinc, copper and iron in toenails were measured by inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry and by neutron activation analysis. Data obtained from 58 cases and 58 controls indicated higher levels of copper and lower concentrations of iron in melanoma patients, whilst no other differences were seen for the remaining elements. Patterns of correlations of zinc and copper with the estimated intake of some dietary factors were different between cases and controls. Results of the present study suggest that abnormal intake or metabolism of copper and of iron might be implicated in the etiology of melanoma, whilst they do not indicate an involvement of exposure to cadmium, chromium, lead, selenium and zinc in this disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-73
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of trace elements in medicine and biology : organ of the Society for Minerals and Trace Elements (GMS)
Issue number1 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Sep 19 2005


  • Case-control study
  • Melanoma
  • Toenails
  • Trace elements

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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