Editor’s note: It’s important to note that these findings only suggest a potential association. To determine any cause and effect relationship, further study is required.
Recent comorbidity studies have found associations between rosacea and increased risk for breast and brain cancer.
Although the word cancer ignites fear in many people, the term may refer to any number of different diseases, many of which may not be fatal. A recent study published in the Japanese Journal of Dermatology investigated the relationship between rosacea and cancer in a Chinese patient population, examining potential associations with a broad range of different varieties of cancer.
Conducted at a medical center in southern China, researchers identified a test group of 7,548 cancer patients and a control group of 8,340 cancer-free patients. Two dermatologists were present during patient visits to ensure accurate diagnosis of rosacea. They found rosacea was associated with an increased risk of breast cancer and glioma, a rare form of brain cancer, and a decreased risk for cancers of the blood, such as leukemia.
The potential connection between rosacea and breast cancer is controversial, the researchers said. A Danish population-based study found a link between the two diseases, while other studies have observed no relationship. The investigators pointed to studies that noted breast cancer risk may be elevated in female rosacea patients owing to hormonal changes and elevated estrogen in the inflammation and immune response.
Regarding the possible association between rosacea and glioma, the researchers noted that the development of glioma depends on certain molecular mechanisms that are also associated with the pathophysiology of rosacea. They further noted that the persistent inflammation associated with rosacea may activate the immune system, which may inhibit pathogens in the blood and reduce the cancer risk.
Long J, Li J, Yuan X, et al. Potential association between rosacea and cancer: A study in a medical center in southern China. Journal of Dermatology 2019; 1-7.