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Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2008 Jun;7(6):730-3. doi: 10.1039/b719302e. Epub 2008 Apr 18.

Climate change and human skin cancer.

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Ecofys Netherlands, PO Box 8408, NL-3503, RK, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


As part of an inventory of potential interactions between effects of ozone depletion and climate change, a possible effect of ambient temperature on sun-induced skin cancers was suggested. Mouse experiments had shown that increased room temperature enhanced ultraviolet (UV) radiation-induced carcinogenesis; the effective UV dose was increased by 3-7% per degrees C. The present investigation was aimed at studying a possible temperature effect on human skin cancer. Existing data on the incidence of human skin cancer were analyzed, as available from two special surveys of non-melanoma skin cancer in the United States. The incidence of non-melanoma skin cancer in the ten regions surveyed not only correlated significantly with the ambient UV dose but also with the average daily maximum temperature in summer. For squamous cell carcinoma the incidence was higher by 5.5% (SE 1.6%) per degrees C and for basal cell carcinoma by 2.9% (SE 1.4%) per degrees C. These values correspond to an increase of the effective UV dose by about 2% per degrees C. Although the precise nature of this correlation with temperature requires further studies, it can be concluded that the temperature rises coming with climate change can indeed amplify the induction of non-melanoma skin cancers by UV radiation in human populations.

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