Could ultraviolet B irradiance and vitamin D be associated with lower incidence rates of lung cancer?

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2008 Jan;62(1):69-74. doi: 10.1136/jech.2006.052571.


Background: This study examines whether insufficient ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiance, a marker of vitamin D inadequacy, might contribute to lung cancer incidence.

Methods: The association of latitude and UVB irradiance with age-adjusted incidence rates of lung cancer in 111 countries was investigated. Independent associations with UVB irradiance, cloud cover, anthropogenic aerosols, and cigarette smoking, were assessed using multiple regression.

Results: Latitude was positively related to incidence rates in men (R(2) = 0.55, p<0.01) and women (R(2) = 0.36, p<0.01). In men, cigarette consumption (p<0.001) was positively related to risk, whereas UVB irradiance was inversely associated (p = 0.003). There were positive associations with UVB absorbers, in particular cloud cover (p = 0.05) and aerosol optical depth (p = 0.005). The R(2) for the model was 0.78 (p<0.001). UVB irradiance was also inversely associated with incidence rates in women (p = 0.0002), whereas cigarette consumption (p<0.001), total cloud cover (p = 0.02) and aerosol optical depth (p = 0.005) were positively associated. The R(2) for the model was 0.77 (p<0.001).

Conclusions: Lower levels of UVB irradiance were independently associated with higher incidence rates of lung cancer in 111 countries.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerosols
  • Atmosphere / chemistry
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Lung Neoplasms / etiology
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Smoking / adverse effects
  • Smoking / epidemiology
  • Sunlight
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology


  • Aerosols