Long-term exposure to commonly used estrogen-based contraceptives was not associated with malignant melanoma in a single-center retrospective study of more than 77,000 women.

Prior work has found conflicting evidence for the role of estrogens in melanogenesis, said Ms. Mueller, who conducted the study under the supervision of Dennis P. West, PhD, professor of dermatology at Northwestern. However, older studies repeatedly linked malignant melanoma with exogenous estrogen exposure, and rates of this cancer are higher in young women, compared with men, before dropping along with estrogen levels after menopause. Currently, the prescribing information for oral, skin patch, and vaginal ring estrogen-based contraceptives lists hormone-sensitive tumors as a possible concern, but does not specify melanoma.