Another Reason Fair-skinned, Red Heads Face A Higher Risk of Melanoma

A certain pigment found in people with red hair and fair skin may be another reason they face a higher risk of melanoma, according to new research by Boston researchers.
Dermatology researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital and other area centers identified the pigment called pheomelanin as a possible culprit behind the increased risk for melanoma for fair-skinned, red-haired women and men.
This possibility is in addition to the decreased protection from UV rays that is provided by fair skin.
Researchers used strains of mice that were nearly genetically identical, except for the gene that controls the type of melanin produced. One group of dark-colored mice had the typical variant leading to a predominance of dark melanin, while the other group of mice had a “red hair-fair skin” version, the same variant that produces red hair and fair skin in humans.
Within months, half of the red mice had developed melanoma, while none of the brown mice had. The confirmation that no unexpected UV radiation existed in the area where the mice were housed led the researchers to question whether the type of pigment in the red mice was, itself, carcinogenic.
Dr. Mary Hurley

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