UV radiation causes sunburn and skin cancer and accelerates skin ageing. Overexposure to UV radiation can lead to inflammations of the cornea and the conjunctiva in the eye, and causes or accelerates cataract development. It also reduces the effectiveness of the immune system. Consequently, sun exposure may enhance the risk of infection and could limit the efficacy of immunization against disease. Both of these act against the health of poor and vulnerable groups, especially children of the developing world as a child's skin is thinner and more sensitive and children have more time to develop diseases of long latency.
Suntan parlour tanning beds, which deliver about 99% UVA to the skin, present a significant danger to users. A 1994 study found that young women aged 18 to 30 who went to a suntan parlour 10 times or more a year had seven times the incidence of melanoma than women who did not go to suntan parlours. The increase in risk for those who use tanning beds occasionally was 3 times.
The market for protective suntan creams in the UK in 1986 was £37 million.