Effects of Solar UV on Human Health and Epidemiology

Human diseases that are linked to UV radiation as either the causative agent or as a factor in susceptibility to disease include several types of skin cancer, eye disease, and damage to the immune system. In addition, it is the UV, primarily UV-B, which is responsible for sunburn and skin aging and wrinkling (Weary, 1996). Sunburn itself is a health issue, but more importantly, some cancers are believed to be related to numerous sunburn episodes.

There are also benefits to UV- radiation exposure, including the production and regulation of vitamin D (Holick, 1999), that claims to reduce the risk for many non-cutaneous cancers (Garland et al., 1985; Gorham et al., 1989; Garland et al., 2002; Grant, 2002a, b, c; Grant, 2003). Table 12.1 lists common cancers with their United States population risk in the order of U.S. mortality.

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