Increased Risk of Skin Cancer in Red Heads

Posted on November 02 2012

There are many ways that skin cancer can be prevented, but those actions and products may not be enough for redheads. A recent study shows that a certain genetic mechanism increases the risk of skin cancer for those with red hair and the fair skin complexion associated with the trait. In the study scientists used mice with a “redhead” pigment gene in their sequencing. Upon removing the gene, scientists found that the skin cancer risk in these mice decreased. Due to this research the scientists were able to identify that the pigment gene itself actually increased the risk of skin cancer in redheads. In essence this means that redheads can contract skin cancer even if they never set foot in the sun. Their sensitive skin is much more prone to being effected by UV rays even when they are fully clothed.  Given that many researchers are aware of the three-times greater risk of melanoma development in red-heads, the findings actually allow these researchers to identify the mechanism that exacerbates the development. Because scientists have been able to identify that the gene plays a role in the development of melanoma, they can now work to develop products and treatments to lower the risk of people with red hair and fair complexions.   Stronger, UV-blocking sunscreens can be developed, perhaps new articles of skin-protecting clothing too. Many are excited about the new findings as it allows them a new way to work toward making melanoma a preventable disease. Until then, researchers emphasize that melanoma is a highly treatable and curable condition. Every person, especially those with red hair, should monitor their skin and look for any abnormalities. Six out of seven melanoma cases can be cured if caught in the early stages. With more testing, hopefully researchers can find measures that eliminate cases in need of curing and decrease the all around risk for red-heads.   Sources: Huffington Post Lifestyle - MedPage Today - CBS News -


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