The UN health agency says up to 60 000 deaths a year worldwide are caused by too much exposure to the sun.
Up to 90 percent of the global burden of disease from melanoma
and other skin cancers are estimated to be caused by exposure to UV
radiation, according to a new World Health Organisation report
called Global Burden of Disease of Solar Ultraviolet Radiation.
The report identified nine adverse health effects from excess
exposure to UV rays.
"This global assessment of the health risks of UV radiation
provides a good basis for public health action. We all need some
sun, but too much sun can be dangerous - and even deadly," said
Maria Neira, the Geneva-based WHO's director for public health and the
UV can cause skin cancer
Though UV radiation does have beneficial effects - mainly the
production of vitamin D when exposed to the shorter wavelength UVB
rays - too much UV radiation can lead to a variety of health
problems, including skin cancer and eye cataracts.
Of the 60 000 yearly deaths caused by excessive exposure to sun,
some 48 000 are caused by malignant melanomas and 12 000 by skin
carcinomas, according to the report.
The three main adverse effects of overexposure to UV rays are
malignant melanoma, a severe cancer that still carries a
significant risk of death despite improvements in treatment; squamous
cell carcinoma of the skin, another type of malignant skin cancer
which generally progresses less rapidly than melanoma and is less
likely to cause death or ongoing disability; and basal cell
carcinoma, which appears predominantly in older people.
In addition, UV radiation leads to sunburn, ageing of the skin,
can cause the eye to become opaque, cause fleshy growths on the
surface of the eye, reactivate cold sores and lead to the rare
squamous cell carcinomas of the eye.
Only a little sun for vit D
The report said in most cases minimal casual exposure to UV rays
should be enough to maintain vitamin D at levels necessary to
prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis, and that many
UV-related illnesses and death can be avoided through simple
The WHO suggests people should limit time in the midday sun, seek
shade when the sun's rays are most intense, wear protective
clothing like hats and sunglasses, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen
of sun protection factor 15 and higher, avoid tanning lamps and
protect children from the sun. – (Sapa-AP)