Scientists suspect link between red hair, freckles and skin cancer

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[S]cientists are beginning to uncover why redheads…may be so vulnerable [to melanoma]: For those who carry an allele…associated with red hair and freckles, cancer-causing genetic mutations occur at a rate 42% greater than they do for people who don’t carry that gene variant.

These findings suggest how it is that redheads and their fellow carriers of an R allele might be more likely than noncarriers to develop melanoma. Any of those mutations found in a patient’s tumor can play a role in allowing cancer to gain a foothold, driving its growth or preventing DNA-repair genes from stepping in and correcting some other problematic mutation. In principle, the more mutations a tumor has, the more likely it is to become deadly.

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“This is a very important question raised by this study,” said Pollack. If melanoma risk is equally elevated for carriers of a single MC1R allele and for redheads who carry two such variants, “should dermatologists and other healthcare providers ask patients if they have a parent with red hair?” he asked.

Read full, original post: A genetic link between red hair, freckles and skin cancer

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