The findings conflict with previous studies which suggested that high-fat diets might contribute to an increased risk.
The study included 652 skin cancer patients aged 20-59 of northern European ancestry living in Tasmania, and 471 controls.
All participants completed a questionnaire on their intake of dietary fat, as well as information on sun exposure since childhood.
The researchers compared the impact of a low, medium and high intake of dietary fat on the risk of having skin cancer.
After adjusting for age, sex and sun exposure, they found that those with the highest dietary fat intake were the least likely to have skin cancer.
They had a 48 per cent decreased risk compared to those in the lowest fat intake group. Those with a medium dietary fat intake were 24 per cent less likely to have skin cancer than those with the lowest fat intake.
Follow-up data on rates of new non-melanoma skin cancer over four years after the initial study provided further support for a link.
Lead researcher Dr Rob Granger, from the Menzies Research Institute in Hobart, Tasmania, said that the findings were not what they expected.
'We thought that low levels of dietary fat would be associated with a reduced risk of a first non-melanoma skin cancer,' he said.
However, he did not recommend high-fat diets in order to reduce skin cancer risk.
'Skin cancers are eminently treatable, and apart from melanoma, are typically not dangerous in their early stages,' he said.
'We could not recommend consuming a higher level of fat simply to achieve a minimal reduction in risk of skin cancer while considerably enhancing risk of other cancers, diabetes and heart disease.'
- BioMed Central - Live links at GPonline.com.