Popular Science News | Red-Haired Skin Cancer Risk Not Just Linked to Sunbathing

Popular Science News – new research suggests that people with red hair are prone to skin cancer regardless of moves taken to protect themselves while sunbathing. The MC1R gene which gives both humans, and genetically modified mice, red hair appears to be responsible for this and using sun protection measures doesn’t necessarily help.

Researchers introduced this gene into albino mice in order to prepare for a research project and before they could launch it the red-haired mice developed tumours. They are now trying to develop protective strategies to reduce MC1R gene linked cancers which go beyond those involving shielding skin from the sun.

I know I’m just summarising this New Scientist article but what strikes me is that this research is now becoming public and personally I find it distressing for people with red hair being told they are likely to get skin cancer no matter what protective measures they use. Sharon Osborne had a double mastectomy after discovering she carries a gene that increases the risk of developing breast cancer. What are red-haired people supposed to do after being told they have a similar, but unavoidable, risk? Worse still, are we going to be told in a few years time that this condition only applies to genetically modified mice? The premature release of this research by David Fisher at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston strikes me as irresponsible.

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