Ultraviolet radiation and the INTERSUN Programme

Solar ultraviolet radiation: Global burden of disease from solar ultraviolet radiation

Environmental Burden of Disease Series, No. 13

Robyn Lucas, Tony McMichael, Wayne Smith and Bruce Armstrong

Human exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation has important public health implications. Evidence of harm associated with overexposure to UV has been demonstrated in many studies. Skin cancer and malignant melanoma are among the most severe health effects, but a series of other health effects have been identified. The current report provides a quantification of the global disease burden associated with UV. The information presented forms a knowledge base for the prevention of adverse effects of UV exposure that is achievable with known and accessible interventions. UV prevention focuses on protecting the skin and other organs from UV radiation. On the other hand, a moderate degree of UV exposure is necessary for the production of Vitamin D which is essential for bone health. Additionally, evidence emerges that low Vitamin D levels are likely to be associated with other chronic diseases. Thus, public health policy on ultraviolet radiation needs to aim at preventing the disease burden associated both with excessive and with insufficient UV exposure.

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