Skin Cancer And The "Ginger Gene"

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Researchers have discovered that the "ginger gene," otherwise known as MC1R is actually carried by 1 in 4 people, not just gingers. In other words, you do not need to be a red head with pale skin and freckles to be a carrier. Since 1 in 4 people are carriers, this means that far more people are at an increased risk for developing skin cancer.

Red heads carry two copies of the MC1R gene, while many others are "silent" carries with only one copy of the MC1R gene. With this comes the increased risk of melanoma.

Those people carrying the genetic variant for red hair have far more mutations in their skin cancer. So this study effectively showed that this proclivity for cancer was associated with the MC1R gene and the fact that it caused a variety of tumor mutations.

Due to this finding, researchers are saying that it's important for not just red heads, but everyone to be careful and limit their sun exposure. Based on the research, there doesn't seem to be a difference in terms of cancer mutation risk between red heads carrying two MC1R genes and non-red heads carrying only one MC1R gene. The difference is that the "silent" non-red head carriers don't realize that they are at risk. So please take caution. You could be at risk and not know it.

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Kevin Rollins

Contributor

One of the most energetic writers we have on staff, Kevin comes in to work every day with an upbeat attitude and a willingness to learn something new each day. His infectious attitude has made our team a tight knit group and why he has been promoted to team lead by his peers. He focuses on our positive and inspirational stories as well as leads a team of writers.