Researchers have shown that it’s genes, and not the Sun which increases the risk of melanoma in redheads.


Doctors previously believed that their pale skin, often covered with freckles just didn’t provide as much protection towards UV’s, but new research showed that genetic factors of the skin pigment are the real culprits here.

“We’ve known for a long time that people with red hair and fair skin have the highest melanoma risk of any skin type,” study author Dr. David Fisher, chief of dermatology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said in a written statement. The new findings “may provide an opportunity to develop better sunscreens and other measures that directly address this pigmentation-associated risk while continuing to protect against UV radiation, which remains our first line of defense against melanoma and other skin cancers,” he said.

Melanoma is the most dangerous type of cancer, with more than 76,000 cases expected to be diagnosed this year. The thing is different human skin types contain different types of melanin, which give different types of skin color, each with its own susceptibility towards skin cancer. According to the researchers, skin type alone can’t explain the rise in melanoma risk among redheads, because the increased incidence also occurs in patients who haven’t been exposed to the Sun.

Now, researchers explain, we can understand that, while blocking UVs is indeed extremely important, it is by no mean the only one.

“Right now we’re excited to have a new clue to help better understand this mystery behind melanoma, which we have always hoped could be a preventable disease,” Fisher said. “The risk for people with this skin type has not changed, but now we know that blocking UV radiation – which continues to be essential – may not be enough.”

Research was published in Nature

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