Association between solar radiation and ocular squamous cell carcinoma in cattle

David E. Anderson From the Department of Molecular Genetics, Box 209, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas, Houston, TX 77030.

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Michael Badzioch From the Department of Molecular Genetics, Box 209, M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Texas, Houston, TX 77030.

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SUMMARY

The association between ocular squamous cell tumors and various measures of solar radiation was evaluated for 2,775 contemporaneous Hereford cattle. The animals were from 34 herds located in 21 states in the United States and in one Canadian province. Examinations and photographs were made of the eyes of all cows and heifers in a herd; 33 herds were examined between June and August 1957 and 1 herd was examined in 1958. Solar radiation was measured by altitude and mean annual hours of sunshine applying to an individual herd, and global radiation, a cloudiness index, and elevation of nearby National Weather Service stations. All measures of solar radiation provided evidence of a significant association between increasing risks of developing cancer eye and increasing levels of radiation; adjustments were made for possible confounding effects of age and corneoscleral pigmentation. Associations were evident whether affliction was defined as the occurrence of any type of tumor (ie, plaque, papilloma, or carcinoma), or as the occurrence of only papilloma or carcinoma. Average ages of affected cattle also tended to be lower at high radiation levels than at low levels, further supporting the hypothesis that solar radiation has an important role in the development of this disease. In view of the heritability of eye pigmentation and its inhibitory effect on lesions, cancer eye may be controlled by selective breeding for increased pigmentation in and around the eye to afford protection against the harmful effects of incident uv radiation.

SUMMARY

The association between ocular squamous cell tumors and various measures of solar radiation was evaluated for 2,775 contemporaneous Hereford cattle. The animals were from 34 herds located in 21 states in the United States and in one Canadian province. Examinations and photographs were made of the eyes of all cows and heifers in a herd; 33 herds were examined between June and August 1957 and 1 herd was examined in 1958. Solar radiation was measured by altitude and mean annual hours of sunshine applying to an individual herd, and global radiation, a cloudiness index, and elevation of nearby National Weather Service stations. All measures of solar radiation provided evidence of a significant association between increasing risks of developing cancer eye and increasing levels of radiation; adjustments were made for possible confounding effects of age and corneoscleral pigmentation. Associations were evident whether affliction was defined as the occurrence of any type of tumor (ie, plaque, papilloma, or carcinoma), or as the occurrence of only papilloma or carcinoma. Average ages of affected cattle also tended to be lower at high radiation levels than at low levels, further supporting the hypothesis that solar radiation has an important role in the development of this disease. In view of the heritability of eye pigmentation and its inhibitory effect on lesions, cancer eye may be controlled by selective breeding for increased pigmentation in and around the eye to afford protection against the harmful effects of incident uv radiation.

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