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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.

“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

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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