Melanoma is much more rare than other skin cancers such as basal cell and squamous skin cancers. Unfortunately it is much more deadly than any skin cancer. It is estimated that about 16,000 Americans each year die from melanoma.

By far the greatest but not the only risk is sun exposure. The basic truth is the more sun exposure, the greater the risk. Tanning booths which to be sure give you a nice even tan also greatly increase your risk of all skin cancers (and sun exposure by the way causes aging including wrinkles).

Being born with red hair and freckles is an independent risk. Blue eyed individuals have greater risk than brown eyes. And darker skinned persons have much less risk than whites.

A recent study suggests another risk factor: White wine consumption. It turns out that regular white wine drinkers had much greater lifetime odds of melanoma than non drinkers. Red wine increased the risk but not nearly as much. Curiously, these white wine associated melanomas were more likely on the trunk, where there is less sun exposure than on the extremities,where the sun exposure is much greater.

It may be that acetaldehyde which is present in all wine is the culprit. This is known to cause cancer. However, this has not been proven yet. Red wine, which unlike white wine, contains many antioxidants, might not have this effect because the antioxidants counteract the harmful effects of acetaldehyde.

Melanoma is deadly. Try to limit your alcohol consumption, especially white wine if you are at high risk for this cancer.