Redheads may be more likely to develop skins cancers, says a new study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital. It has long been suggested that fair skinned and ginger haired people should avoid too much sun light, but now lead researcher Dr. David E. Fisher says that may not be enough.
According to Fisher, redheads have increased levels of pheomelanin pigment, which has now been linked to increased cancer risk. For the study Fisher and his team created a special breed of mouse with genetically increased levels of the pigment.
They found that within a year, fifty percent of these mice had developed melanoma without even being exposed to increased UV rays.
"Even if you're good about avoiding UV rays — you know, putting on sunscreen, wearing protective clothes and being careful at the beach — it's still possible this red pigment is related to carcinogenic activity anyway," said Dr. Fisher.
"We were very surprised," Fisher adds. "In fact, one of the first things we did was go back into the animal room with a UV meter just to be sure that for some inexplicable reason the lights were not actually emitting ultraviolet radiation."
The data was published this week in the journal Nature.
by RTT Staff Writer
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