EuroSun introduction: background and objectives

EuroSun aims to monitor ultraviolet exposure across Europe and its effects on incidence of skin cancers and cataracts.

Exposures to the various UV wavelengths have been calculated for every geographical site within Europe from meteorological satellite data (SoDa). An atlas has been produced, illustrating UV exposure in Europe, based on UV irradiation values over 5-year periods. UV exposure in individuals will be calculated by reconstructing past individual exposure over the last 10 years in random population samples of each Member State. The level, distribution and trends of UV exposure in European populations are derived from these calculations.

The effects of the levels of solar UV exposure in the different European populations on the incidence of skin cancers and cataracts will be estimated by comparing UV exposure data with the geographical incidence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers and of cataracts. EuroSun can provide indicators of UV exposure and predict the burden of UV-related diseases in future years in Europe.

The EuroSun initiative is an entirely new approach, original and highly innovative, building on previous projects supported by the European Commission: European Code Against Cancer and IST “SoDa” project.

EuroSun can contribute to health protection, especially in new Member States and candidate countries where the immediate situation is cause for concern. With economic development comes increasing affluence and a greater number of individuals are able to take more holidays to sunny climates. The impact of this behaviour change on populations with predominantly fair, white skin could be substantial, unless urgent steps are taken to minimise the impact.

More specific objectives of the project include:

  • Estimation of total dose of UV spectrum in regions of the EU,
  • Monitoring changes in UV levels and its links to skin cancer burden,
  • Developing a tool for the quantitative estimation of UV solar exposure in the EU,
  • Validation of this tool through reconstruction of past solar exposure among random samples of populations in EU countries,
  • Relating the geographical occurrence of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers with estimated sun exposure,
  • Relating the geographical occurrence of cataracts with estimated sun exposure,
  • Development of indicators of changing risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers and of cataracts,
  • Development of a risk communication tool to increase awareness of the risk of skin cancer and cataracts.