International Study Links Genetics to Melanoma

42-16710466Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, can be the result of overexposure to UV rays from the sun or tanning booths. Until recently, dermatologists and medical professionals strongly linked the risk of melanoma to excessive sun exposure and sun sensitivity, and a genetic disposition to developing skin cancer.

Now, recent research confirms that genetics does play an important role in the development of melanoma, and may explain why people with the most moles on their skin have the highest risk of developing melanoma.

According to a study led by Professors Julia Newton Bishop and Tim Bishop of the Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL) at the University of Leeds in the UK, people with genes that gave them red hair and freckles, and those who develop moles very easily, are at an increased risk of melanoma. The study examined the genetic makeup of over 10,000 people and compared the results with those who have developed the disease, and those who have not. They found several genetic commonalities between the participants of the study, and those who had developed melanoma.  Those who tend to have burn easily, have sensitive skin, and tend to get freckles are increasingly at risk for developing skin cancer.

While the results of the study confirmed what many researchers already knew, the link between certain genes and the risk of melanoma had not been researched in-depth or reported on until this time. Results of the study were published in the online issue of Nature Genetics, and point to the actual genes associated with the increased risk of melanoma and skin cancer.

Staying out of direct sunlight is only one way to reduce the risk of developing skin cancer, as it is just as important for people to wear appropriate sun protection when they are outdoors or will be exposed to indirect sunlight. Melanoma is fatal, and those who are at a higher risk of developing this disease must take extra measures to protect themselves against excess sun exposure.


Further Reading

  • Topical agents, diet and certain medicines presented at the American Academy of Dermatology’s Summer Academy Meeting 2010 in Chicago is showing promise for preventing UV-induced skin cancer. Most skin cancers are caused by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, and dermatologists are now encouraging the public to be conscientious about the amount of sun they are exposed to, and taking extra steps to use broad-spectrum sunscreen on a regular basis.

  • If you’re one of the many people who head to the beach with plenty of sunscreen and a beach umbrella, you may still need to take extra steps to ward off harmful UV rays. According to a recent study published in the Photochemistry and Photobiology journals, beach umbrellas block out only about 70 percent of UV rays.

  • Mohs surgery has been proven effective for reducing facial scarring after skin cancer surgery, and is quickly becoming the preferred surgery of choice at several cosmetic surgery and dermatology offices around the United States.