Sun-worshipping comes with serious acute and chronic risks to the skin

Biophysical and physiological effects of solar radiation on human skin

Paolo Giacomoni

Cambridge, UK: RSC Publishing 2007 | 352 pp | ?169.00 (HB) ISBN 9780854042890

Reviewed by Paolo Di Mascio

This volume is part of an encyclopaedic series, the Comprehensive series in photochemical and photobiological sciences,  initiated by the European Society for Photobiology. 

This series is intended to cover a range of different multidisciplinary fields that ’deal’ with light. This particular volume covers different aspects related to solar radiation effects (acute and chronic) on the human skin, a subject which has grown in importance because of changing recreational behaviour, increasing temperatures and rising levels of high-energy UV radiation and the resultant effects on levels of skin cancer. 

This provides a multidisciplinary approach to the subject, dealing as it does with the chemistry, physiology and biochemical mechanisms. The many clinical effects of solar radiation, such as inflammation, pigmentation, immunosuppression, cancer and ageing are all discussed in detail. 

The book ends with a section on the biochemical mechanisms involved in the generation of damage to DNA, lipids and proteins and on their removal. 

I found the book well balanced and very readable and would recommend it to those who want a critical evaluation of the directions that this field is taking.