Most people with pale skin, red hair or freckles know to slather on extra sun block to ward off skin cancer. A trio of new studies reinforces that notion – but also suggests that genes, not pigmentation, may provide the ultimate guide to who is most likely to get skin cancer after sitting in the sun.
Researchers in Iceland and Australia studying thousands of people with melanoma and other skin cancers have pinpointed a gene affecting both a person's skin tone and their chances of getting skin cancer.
But extra rays and pale skin may not be the only explanation for the genetic link to skin cancer, says Karí Stefánnson, CEO of DeCODE Genetics in Reykjavik, Iceland. His team identified a mutation in a gene called ASIP that doubles the risk of melanoma in sun-starved Icelanders.
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