Subscribe to the BioNews newsletter for free

Login
Advanced Search

Search for
BioNews

Like the Progress Educational Trust on Facebook




 

Genetic variation raises melanoma risk in those who tan easily

27 April 2009

By Lorna Stewart

Appeared in BioNews 505

Having dark hair and tanning easily does not necessarily make you less likely to develop skin cancer, according to data presented last week at the annual meeting for the American Association for Cancer Research in Denver. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, US, found that people who tan easily but have particular genetic variants in MC1R (melanocortin 1 receptor) could be at a higher risk of developing melanoma than previously thought.

The team, led by Professor Peter Kanetsky, analyzed 779 patients with melanoma from the Pigmented Lesion Clinic at the University of Pennsylvania and compared them with 325 healthy control patients. Amongst those with dark hair who tan easily, MCR1 variants were associated with a more than two-fold risk of melanoma but this was not true amongst those with blond or red hair. However, people with dark hair are not thought to be at increased risk for melanoma in general. In this study their risk for melanoma was increased only if they had dark hair and also inherited certain MC1R genetic variants.

'Traditionally, a clinician might look at a person with dark hair who did not sunburn easily and classify them as lower risk for melanoma, but that may not be true for all people in the population', said Professor Kanetsky. 'Just because you tolerate sun exposure fairly well doesn't mean that you're not at increased risk for melanoma'.

MC1R variants were also associated with increased risk among those with dark eye colour (3.2-fold increase), those 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). People with these characteristics are usually thought to be at reduced risk for melanoma. It is clearly important that people who have the physical characteristics of reduced risk of melanoma are educated about preventing skin cancer just as those with red or blond hair and freckles would be.

Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer but is highly curable if caught early. The American Cancer Society estimate there were about 62,000 new cases of melanoma in the United States in 2008, and 8420 of these were fatal.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
The Daily Telegraph | 21 April 2009
 
ScienceDaily | 22 April 2009
 
Genes hike melanoma risk even in those who tan well
Forbes.com | 20 April 2009
 
LA Times | 21 April 2009
 

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

03 May 2016 - by Isobel Steer 
Scientists say they have identified a gene that could explain why some people appear to look younger than they are...
27 August 2013 - by James Brooks 
The genetic mutation responsible for red hair leaves DNA in skin cells more prone to sun damage and cancer, scientists report...
27 February 2012 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
The European approval of a new gene-specific drug for an aggressive form of skin cancer marks another step towards an era of personalised medicine. A recent trial showed promising results, with the drug shrinking tumour size and extending life span...
26 July 2010 - by Harriet Vickers 
A black Nigerian couple have given birth to a white baby. With blonde curly hair and blue eyes, the girl's appearance has prompted several theories as to its genetic cause...

14 April 2009 - by Dr Will Fletcher 
Up to 70 per cent of cases of malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, may be triggered by a mutation in the BRAF gene caused by ageing and over-exposure to the sun. Details of the new findings were published in the journal Cancer Cell...
30 March 2009 - by Dr Rebecca Robey 
US scientists have found a link between a variant in the gene MDM2, called MDM2 SNP309, and the occurrence of melanoma in younger women. The study, published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, found that MDM2 SNP309 was significantly more common in women who were diagnosed with...

HAVE YOUR SAY
Be the first to have your say.

You need to or  to add comments.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


- click here to enquire about using this story.

Published by the Progress Educational Trust
Advertise your products and services HERE - click for further details

Good Fundraising Code

Become a Friend of PET HERE and give the Progress Educational Trust a regular donation