Role of solar UVB irradiance and smoking in cancer as inferred from cancer incidence rates by occupation in Nordic countries

Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Apr 1;4(2):203-11. doi: 10.4161/derm.20965.


A large body of evidence indicates that solar ultraviolet-B (UVB) irradiance and vitamin D reduce the risk of incidence and death for many types of cancer. However, most of that evidence comes from midlatitude regions, where solar UVB doses are generally high in summer. Data on cancer standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) by sex and 54 occupation categories based on 1.4 million male and 1.36 million female cancer cases for 1961-2005 in the five Nordic countries provide the basis for an ecological study of the role of solar UVB in the risk of many types of cancer at high latitudes. Lip cancer SIRs less lung cancer SIRs for men was the best index of solar UVB dose, which was weakly inversely correlated with both melanoma and nonmelanoma skin cancer (NMSC) SIRs. Lung cancer SIRs were used as the index of the effects of smoking. For men, the UVB index was significantly inversely correlated with 14 types of internal cancer-bladder, breast, colon, gallbladder, kidney, laryngeal, liver, lung, oral, pancreatic, pharyngeal, prostate, rectal and small intestine cancer. For women, the same UVB index was inversely correlated with bladder, breast and colon cancer. These results generally agree with findings from other studies. These results provide more support for the UVB-vitamin D-cancer hypothesis and suggest that widespread fear of chronic solar ultraviolet (UV) irradiance may be misplaced.

Keywords: Nordic countries; breast cancer; cancer; lip cancer; occupation; pancreatic cancer; smoking; ultraviolet-B; vitamin D.