Skip to main content
Log in

UVA-induced tumours in pigmented hairless mice and the carcinogenic risks of tanning with UVA

  • Original Contributions
  • Published:
Archives of Dermatological Research Aims and scope Submit manuscript


An animal experiment is presented in which two groups of pigmented hairless mice were exposed daily to suberythemal doses of UVA to study tumourigenesis. The aim of the study was to estimate the carcinogenic risks of tanning by UVA. The pigmented hairless mice, Skh-hr2, were separated by selective breeding into two groups, the “browns” and the “blacks”. Both groups were exposed daily to UVA from fluorescent UVA lamps (Philips TL40W/09) purified by rigorously filtering out the shorter wavelengths. No acute actinic damage was observed after any exposure. However, in most UVA exposed animals, especially in the blacks, a marked scratching preceded the development of tumours. Hyperkeratosis was also observed. All animals developed tumours. Histopathologically at least 60% of the tumours were squamous cell carcinomas. Depositions of melanophages were observed, but no melanomas. It is beyond any doubt that UVA is carcinogenic in laboratory animals. The present state of knowledge justifies no preference for tanning with UVA over tanning with UVB.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Blum HF (1959) Carcinogenesis by ultraviolet light. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey

    Google Scholar 

  2. De Gruijl FR, van der Meer JB, van der Leun JC (1983) Dose-time dependency of tumor formation by chronic UV exposure. Photochem Photobiol 37:53–62

    Google Scholar 

  3. Forbes PD (1981) Photocarcinogenesis: an overview. J Invest Dermatol 77:139–143

    Google Scholar 

  4. Forbes PD, Davies RE (1984) Photobiology of experimental ultraviolet carcinogenesis. In: Daynes RA, Spikes JD (eds) Experimental and clinical photoimmunology, vol. I. CRC Press, Bocca Raton, Florida

    Google Scholar 

  5. Forbes PD, Blum HF, Davies RE (1981) Photocarcinogenesis in hairless mice: dose-response and the influence of dose-delivery. Photochem Photobiol 34:361–365

    Google Scholar 

  6. Forbes PD, Davies RE, Cole CA (1982) Photocarcinogenesis by UV-A alone. In: Abstracts of 10th Annual Meeting of the American Society on Photobiology, Vancouver, Canada, p 66

  7. Kelfkens G, van Weelden H, de Gruijl FR, van der Leun JC (1989) The influence of the exposure time on tumorigenesis by ultraviolet radiation. In: Proceedings of the 30th Dutch Federation Meeting, Maastricht, p 207

  8. Kopf AW, Kripke ML, Stern RS (1984) Sun and malignant melanoma. J Am Acad Dermatol 11:674–684

    Google Scholar 

  9. Lee JAH (1982) Melanoma and exposure to sunlight. Epidemiol Rev 4:110–136

    Google Scholar 

  10. Mutzhas MF, Hölzle E, Hofmann C, Plewig G (1981) A new apparatus with high radiation energy between 320–460 nm: physical description and dermatological applications. J Invest Dermatol 76:42–47

    Google Scholar 

  11. Scotto J, Fears TR (1987) The association of solar ultraviolet and skin melanoma incidence among Caucasians in the United States. Cancer Invest 5:275–283

    Google Scholar 

  12. Strickland PT (1986) Photocarcinogenesis by near-ultraviolet (UV-A) radiation in Sencar mice. J Invest Dermatol 87:272–275

    Google Scholar 

  13. Swedlow AJ (1979) Incidence of malignant melanoma of the skin in England and Wales and its relationship to sunshine. Br Med 12:1324–1327

    Google Scholar 

  14. van Weelden H, van der Leun JC (1987) UV-A induced tumors in pigmented and albino hairless mice. In: Passchier WF, Bosnjakovic BFM (eds) Human exposure to ultraviolet radiation: risks and regulations. Elsevier Science, Amsterdam, pp 45–52

    Google Scholar 

  15. Van Weelden H, de Gruijl FR, van der Leun JC (1986) Carcinogenesis by UVA with an attempt to assess the carcinogenic risks of tanning with UVA and UVB. In: Urbach F, Gange RW (eds) The biological effects of UVA radiation. Praeger, New York, pp 137–146

    Google Scholar 

  16. van Weelden H, de Gruijl FR, van der Putte SCJ, Toonstra J, van der Leun JC (1988) The carcinogenic risks of modern tanning equipment: is UV-A safer than UV-B? Arch Dermatol Res 280:300–307

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

van Weelden, H., van der Putte, S.C.J., Toonstra, J. et al. UVA-induced tumours in pigmented hairless mice and the carcinogenic risks of tanning with UVA. Arch Dermatol Res 282, 289–294 (1990).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words