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Background: Studies suggest that ambient sunlight plays an important role in the pathogenesis of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC). However, there is ongoing controversy regarding the relevance of occupational exposure to natural and artificial ultraviolet radiation (UV) radiation.

Objectives: We investigated potential associations between natural and artificial UV radiation exposure at work with NMSC in a case-control study conducted in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Methods: Occupational exposures were classified by expert assessment for 527 controls and 618 NMSC cases (515 basal cell carcinoma, BCC). Covariate information was collected via interview and multiple logistic regression models were used to assess associations between UV exposure and NMSC.

Results: Lifetime prevalence of occupational exposure in the participants was 13% for natural UV radiation and 7% for artificial UV radiation. Significant negative associations between occupational exposure to natural UV radiation and NMSC were detected for all who had ever been exposed (odds ratio (OR) 0.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.27–0.80); similar results were detected using a semi-quantitative metric of cumulative exposure. The effects were modified by skin complexion, with significantly decreased risks of BCC among participants with light skin complexion. No associations were observed in relation to occupational artificial UV radiation exposure.

Conclusions: The protective effect of occupational exposure to natural UV radiation was unexpected, but limited to lightskinned people, suggesting adequate sun-protection behaviors. Further investigations focusing on variations in the individual genetic susceptibility and potential interactions with environmental and other relevant factors are planned.


This is the Publisher’s PDF of the following article made available by PLoS One:

Surdu S, Fitzgerald EF, Bloom MS, Boscoe FP, Carpenter DO, et al. (2013) Occupational Exposure to Ultraviolet Radiation and Risk of Non-Melanoma Skin Cancer in a Multinational European Study. PLoS ONE 8(4): e62359.

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