Journal scan

Sunlight and cancer: what are the risks in the UK?

If a causal relationship is acknowledged, 2 per cent of all cutaneous malignant melanoma in Britain may be ascribed to work-related sunlight exposure, suggest researchers at Imperial College, London.

If a causal relationship is acknowledged, 2 per cent of all cutaneous malignant melanoma in Britain may be ascribed to work-related sunlight exposure, suggest researchers at Imperial College, London.


Those working in the agriculture industry presented one of the greatest
burdens of disease. Picture: Alamy

Assessments of the burden of cancer were made using estimates of the risk of disease and the proportion of people exposed to the causative factors.

Researchers factored in elements such as adjustments for the relatively low levels of sunlight in the UK and therefore exposure, residence and location, occupation as recorded on death certification and life expectancy.

Higher incidence in men

The results suggested that five de novo cancers and one death could be attributed to occupational exposure per week within the UK. Certain occupational sectors provided more cause for concern than others: workers in the construction and agriculture industries presented the greatest burden of disease. Other areas of occupational concern included public administration and defence and land transport.

The larger number of men working within these industries and the presumed elevated levels of exposure also meant a larger burden of disease in men than women.

The authors suggest that using such data has previously, and can continue, to inform public health and preventative care measures.


Rushton L, Hutchings S (2017). The burden of occupationally-related cutaneous malignant melanoma in Britain due to solar radiation. British Journal of Cancer 116, 4, 536-539.

This article is for subscribers only

Jobs