Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the principal cause of over 95% of keratinocyte cancers (basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas of the skin), the most common cancers in white populations worldwide. UV radiation also causes an estimated 60%–90% of cutaneous melanoma, the cancer affecting the skin’s pigment-producing cells. In addition, UV radiation is the major cause of many eye diseases, including ocular cancers and cataract, the commonest cause of blindness, and is responsible for the underlying changes in skin aging, on which billions of dollars are spent annually in efforts to repair the damage. The sun is the principal source of human exposure to UV radiation. However, artificial sources are encountered in a wide range of industrial and medical settings, and increasingly from commercial tanning facilities. By the late twentieth century, nearly epidemic increases in skin cancer incidence had occurred in white populations, especially in Australia and New Zealand.
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