Don’t feel the burn? Get out of the sun

Dark hair and eyes, and the ability to tan easily, may be risk factors for skin cancer

Think you have little chance of getting skin cancer because you don’t burn easily and have dark hair? You may actually run more risk depending on your genes, according to surprising findings presented at the recent American Association of Cancer Research conference. Variations in the MC1R gene may increase the risk of melanoma among people who historically haven’t been considered high-risk candidates. One study showed that the chance for skin cancer was 2.4 times higher in dark-haired people who have MC1R genetic variants. By comparison, blonds or redheads who had these same genetic variants were at no increased risk. What’s more, the MC1R gene was associated with higher risk among people with “dark eye colour (3.2-fold increase), who did not freckle (8-fold increase), who tanned after repeated sun exposure (2.4 fold increase) or who tanned immediately without burning (9.5-fold increase),” according to a summary of the research. “People with these characteristics are usually thought to be at reduced risk for melanoma.” Unfortunately, there is no screening test for MC1R available to the general public yet.

Science Daily

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