Ultraviolet wavebands and melanoma initiation


Dorothy C. Bennett, e-mail: dbennett@sgul.ac.uk


In view of claims that ultraviolet radiation-emitting sunbeds are safe, or safe when they emit only longer wavelengths, research findings are reviewed here on the effects of ultraviolet wavebands A and B (UVA, 315–400 nm and UVB, 290–315 nm) on mutagenesis and carcinogenesis in skin, with particular reference to melanocytes and melanoma. Both UVA and UVB radiation have been shown to induce mutations, as well as mutagenic photoproducts such as cyclobutane pyrimidine dimers, in human skin. UVB can induce melanoma in susceptible mice and in xenografted human skin engineered to express melanocyte growth factors. There is evidence for photosensitization of melanocytes by melanin, especially pheomelanin. UVA can induce melanoma in pigmented fish, and melanocytic hyperplasia in pigmented opossums, but has not generally been tested for melanoma induction in pigmented mammals or in human skin. There is no experimental basis for a claim that UVA is safe, and recreational exposure to this known mutagen should be discouraged.