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Research Article

Skin Cancer, Irradiation, and Sunspots: The Solar Cycle Effect



Abstract

Skin cancer is diagnosed in more than 2 million individuals annually in the United States. It is strongly associated with ultraviolet exposure, with melanoma risk doubling after five or more sunburns. Solar activity, characterized by features such as irradiance and sunspots, undergoes an 11-year solar cycle. This fingerprint frequency accounts for relatively small variation on Earth when compared to other uncorrelated time scales such as daily and seasonal cycles. Kolmogorov-Zurbenko filters, applied to the solar cycle and skin cancer data, separate the components of different time scales to detect weaker long term signals and investigate the relationships between long term trends. Analyses of crosscorrelations reveal epidemiologically consistent latencies between variables which can then be used for regression analysis to calculate a coefficient of influence. This method reveals that strong numerical associations, with correlations >0.5, exist between these small but distinct long term trends in the solar cycle and skin cancer. This improves modeling skin cancer trends on long time scales despite the stronger variation in other time scales and the destructive presence of noise.


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