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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):119-31. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Adverse effects of ultraviolet radiation: a brief review.

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  • 1Cancer Control Research Program, BC Cancer Agency, 675 W. 10th Ave., Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 1L3.


Solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has always been part of the environment of man. UVB is required for the conversion of 7-deoxycholesterol to vitamin D, which is critically important in the maintenance of healthy bones and research is making clear that it has other potential roles in maintenance of human health. Exposure to UVR, whether of solar or artificial origin, also carries potential risks to human health. UVR is a known carcinogen and excessive exposure-at least to solar radiation in sunlight-increases risk of cancer of the lip, basal cell, and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin and cutaneous melanoma, particularly in fair skin populations. There is also evidence that solar UVR increases risk of several diseases of the eye, including cortical cataract, some conjunctival neoplasms, and perhaps ocular melanoma. Solar UVR may also be involved in autoimmune and viral diseases although more research is needed in these areas. Artificial UVR from tanning beds, welding torches, and other sources, may contribute to the burden of disease from UVR. This brief review will assess the human evidence for adverse health effects from solar and artificial UVR and will attempt to assign a degree of certainty to the major disease-exposure relationships based on the weight of available scientific evidence.

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