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UV Health Statistics

 

Solar Ultraviolet [UV] light

Solar Ultraviolet [UV] light has both beneficial and very damaging effects on the health. Understanding the impact of UV through statistics makes us more aware of how we must make more effort to protect ourselves from these harmful rays.

 

Statistics

  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated that more than 2 million nonmelanoma skin cancers and 200,000 malignant melanomas occur globally each year.
  • A 10% decrease in stratospheric ozone, is estimated to lead to an additional 300,000 nonmelanoma and 4,500 melanoma skin cancers worldwide.
  • Caucasians have a higher risk of skin cancer due to less protective skin pigmentation.
  • Estimated new cases and deaths from skin (non-melanoma) cancer in the United States in 2007:
    • New cases: more than 1,000,000
    • Deaths: less than 2,000
    Source: Cancer.gov
  • Over 130 000 cases of melanoma skin cancer are reported each year around the world.
  • 12 to 15 million people worldwide are blind from cataracts. Up to 20 per cent of these cases may be caused or enhanced by sun exposure.
  • Children are particularly vulnerable to UV radiation. About 80 per cent of our lifetime exposure to UV radiation occurs before the age of 20.
  • United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has estimated that more than 2 million nonmelanoma skin cancers and 200,000 malignant melanomas occur globally each year.
  • Caucasians have a higher risk of skin cancer because of the relative lack of skin pigmentation.
  • 1% sustained decrease in stratospheric ozone would result in an increase of 0.5% in the number of cataracts caused by solar UV.
  • Worldwide, levels of UV radiation are on average five to 10% higher than pre-1980 levels, and will remain that way for another decade or more.
  • Global UV levels have been rising for the past 25 years; the ozone is "virtually gone" in the atmospheric layer 12 to 20 km above the earth's surface.
  • Environment Canada scientists predict the ozone layer over southern Canada to be 2% less than normal. Environment Canada developed the UV index, now adopted worldwide.

 

Know Your UV Levels

 

Environment Canada's UV Index

Index Description Health Concern
0 - 3.9 Low If outside for several hours, or if on bright surfaces, such as fresh snow, take precautions: cover up, wear sunscreen and sunglasses.
4 - 6.9 Moderate
Take precautions — cover up, wear sunscreen and sunglasses — especially if you are outside for more than one hour.
7 - 8.9 High Protection required — unprotected skin can burn quickly. Avoid the midday sun and take full precautions: seek shade, cover up, wear sunscreen and sunglasses.
9 + Extreme Extra protection required — unprotected skin can burn in minutes. Limit your time outside, avoid the midday sun, and take full precautions: seek shade, cover up, wear sunscreen and sunglasses.


Skin Cancer in New Zealand

According to skin specipalist Dr Andre Oertel of NZ Skin Cancer Clinic, the majority of skin cancers are treatable, and with less complications, if detected early enough.


NZ has the highest death rate of malignant melanoma in the world, supposedly due to the higher UV levels caused by ozone depletion over Antarctica.


New Zealand Statistics

  • Over 300 New Zealanders are dying from skin cancer every year.
  • Skin cancer is by far the most common cancer affecting New Zealanders.
  • Of the 3 most common skin cancers, melanoma is the most serious.
  • NZ has one of the highest melanoma death rates in the world. The most recent statistics are for 2001, showing 244 reported deaths from melanoma in that year.
  • In 2001 there 96 deaths from non-melanoma skin cancers.
  • Skin cancer costs the New Zealand health system about $33 million a year, making skin cancer one of the most expensive cancers for the NZ health system.
  • It has been estimated that, for every death from skin cancer, an average of 17.4 potential years of life are lost.
  • The vast majority of skin cancers are preventable - it has been estimated that over 90% of melanomas in Australasia are attributable to sunlight exposure.
  • Exposure before the age of 20 years is a particularly strong risk factor for melanoma incidence.

Source : Sunsmart.Org

 

Related Reading

Sun Protection Product Reviews

Sun Protection Product Frequently Asked Questions

 

Other Resources

American Academy of Dermatology

American Cancer Society

National Cancer Institute

US Environmental Protection Agency

 
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