Study: Skin Cancer Risk May Be Genetic

April 22, 2009

People with dark hair who tan easily tend to dismiss warnings about spending too much time in the sun, but a new study now finds these sun-lovers are not immune to skin cancer.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied the genes of nearly 800 melanoma patients, and compared them to over 300 people without the disease.

They found those who carried a certain gene, called MC1R, were two times more likely to develop melanoma. However, the gene was the most dangerous among people normally thought to have a low risk for the disease.

For example, people with dark hair, dark eyes, those who don't freckle, and those who tan immediately without burning had the biggest increased risk for disease if they had this gene.

Experts say more studies are needed to confirm the results. A test for MC1R has not been developed yet.

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