UV Exposure at Work is an Important Risk Factor for Skin Cancer
Much attention is paid to avoiding UV exposure during leisure time to prevent cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), but a recent study looked at whether outdoor workers might be even more at risk. The study was a multi-center population-based case–control study that applied UV-exposure estimation methods to examine the association between occupational and nonoccupational UV exposure and cutaneous SCC. The authors hypothesized that individuals with high occupational UV exposure might have double the risk for SCC compared to workers with moderate exposure. There were over 600 participants enrolled in both the control group and the matched group with diagnosed SCC.
The results showed that in fact, individuals with a lifetime total solar UV exposure of more than 19,612 standard erythemal dose (SED) had a more than twice the risk for incident SCC compared with individuals with less than 9765 SED UV exposure doses. The increased risk for SCC was attributable to occupational UV exposure; nonoccupational UV exposure doses did not differ between patients with SCC and matched controls.
Based on these results, the authors state that there is a clear dose–response relationship between occupational UV exposure and incident SCC. They suggest that these finding help make the case for including SCC as an occupational-related disease for outdoor workers. They conclude that these findings may have a major impact on preventive medicine and health policy, especially around intensifying UV-prevention in the context of work-related solar UV exposure to decrease the public health burden of SCC.