Sun exposure may increase risk of prostate cancer in the high UV environment of New South Wales, Australia: a case-control study

Int J Cancer. 2012 Sep 1;131(5):E726-32. doi: 10.1002/ijc.27400. Epub 2012 Jan 11.


Ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight may influence risk of prostate cancer. In New South Wales (NSW), Australia, we examined the relationship between sun exposure at 30 and 50 years of age and risk of prostate cancer in a case-control study combining the NSW prostate cancer care and outcome study (cases) and the NSW non-Hodgkin's lymphoma study (controls). Prostate cancer risk increased with increasing estimated sun exposure (adjusted OR for highest vs. lowest quartiles of average weekly sun exposure in the warmer months 2.07 95% CI: 1.36-3.15) and this increase was most evident with weekend sun exposure (adjusted OR=5.55, 95% CI: 2.94-10.48). High sun sensitivity was also positively associated with risk for prostate cancer (adjusted OR=1.63, 95% CI: 1.09-2.44). The apparent effects of weekly sun exposure did not vary by disease aggressiveness. Our results suggest that increasing sun exposure in mid-adult years increases prostate cancer risk in a high ambient solar UV environment. Given that previous studies, conducted mainly in low solar UV environments, have generally found evidence of a negative association, our findings suggest there may be a U-shaped relationship between solar UV exposure and prostate cancer. Further studies are needed to test the hypothesis that high solar UV exposure is a risk factor for prostate cancer and to explore possible mechanisms for such an association.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cohort Studies
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms, Radiation-Induced / etiology*
  • New South Wales / epidemiology
  • Prognosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sunlight / adverse effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects*