A study measuring the risks and benefits of exposure to sunlight

Please note - this trial is no longer recruiting patients. We hope to add results when they are available.

Cancer type:

Non melanoma skin cancer
Skin cancer





This study is looking at a new way of working out the good and bad effects of exposure to sunlight. The study is recruiting healthy volunteers.

Ultraviolet radiation from sunlight can cause damage to skin cells. This can lead to skin cancer (both melanoma and non melanoma skin cancer). But sunlight is necessary as we need it for our bodies to make vitamin D.

Researchers want to find out if it is possible to achieve a balance between the good and bad effects of ultraviolet radiation. To do this, they need to find a way of measuring markers that show skin damage.

There are several factors that affect your risk of skin cancer from sun exposure, including your skin type and colour. The study will recruit volunteers with all different skin types and colours. For each skin type, the researchers want to see

  • How long after exposure to sunlight it is best to measure markers of skin damage
  • What is the lowest amount of ultraviolet radiation that increases skin damage markers
  • How much vitamin D is made

The different amounts of ultraviolet radiation people are exposed to will all be lower than the amount that would cause sunburn in their skin type.

You will not get any direct benefit from taking part in this study.

Who can enter

This study is recruiting healthy volunteers. You may be able to enter this trial if you are from Greater Manchester and are aged between 18 and 45. You can have any skin type and any skin colour – white, brown or black.

You cannot enter this trial if you

  • Have had skin cancer
  • Have a condition that makes you very sensitive to light (photosensitivity disorder)
  • Take any medication that makes you more sensitive to light
  • Have sunbathed or used a sunbed in the last 3 months
  • Take vitamin D or antioxidant supplements

Trial design

The study is only taking place at the Photobiology Unit, Dermatology Centre, Salford Royal Hospital, Salford, Manchester.

At your first visit to the unit, a researcher will mark a site on the upper part of your buttock, which is then exposed to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). You go back to the unit 24 hours later for the researchers to measure how red the area of skin is. This is called the sunburn threshold test.

At your next visit to the unit, you will be asked to give a urine sample before you go into a cabinet where your whole body is exposed to low dose ultraviolet radiation. The UVR is at a level below that which would give you sunburn. When you are in the cabinet, you wear shorts and a T-shirt.

The researchers will ask you to collect all urine samples over the next 5 days and take these back to the unit.

There are 2 parts to the study. People taking part in the 2nd part of the study also give small skin samples (biopsies Open a glossary item).

Hospital visits

If you take part in the 1st part of this study, you will visit the Photobiology Unit at Salford Royal Hospital up to 8 times over a 5 day period to take your urine samples to the study team. The study team can give you up to £140 to cover your time and travel costs.

If you take part in the 2nd part of this study, you have blood tests, urine tests and skin biopsies following 4 low dose UVR exposures over a 4 month period. The study team can give you up to £430 to cover your time and travel costs.

Side effects

The researchers do not expect there to be any side effects from taking part. You may have some skin redness after your sunburn threshold test. If you notice this, or any other symptoms, it is important to let the study team know. If you have skin biopsies, you will have small scars and there is a low risk of skin infection.

Recruitment start:

Recruitment end:

How to join a clinical trial

Please note: In order to join a trial you will need to discuss it with your doctor, unless otherwise specified.

Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Chief Investigator

Professor Lesley Rhodes

Supported by

Cancer Research UK
NIHR Clinical Research Network: Cancer
Salford Royal Hospital
University of Manchester

Questions about cancer? Contact our information nurses

Freephone 0808 800 4040

Last review date

CRUK internal database number:


Please note - unless we state otherwise in the summary, you need to talk to your doctor about joining a trial.

Over 60,000 cancer patients enrolled on clinical trials in the UK last year.

Last reviewed:

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