It has long been known that the MCR1 gene that causes red hair, freckling and fair skin has an increased incidence of melanoma. Meaning, us redheads are more susceptible to melanoma — even if we’re not sun worshipers.
A new study by the University of Queensland has discovered the risk of developing melanoma is significantly increased for people who have both red hair and a large number (more than 20) of moles on their body. The study, published in the British Journal of Dermatology, examined 1267 participants’ pigmentation characteristics, the total amount of moles, whether the MC1R gene was present and if there was a history of melanoma.
“Independently, having red hair and lots of large moles over 5 millimeters in diameter are both known risk factors for developing melanoma,” Associate Professor Dr. Rick Sturm stated.
“People with red hair have a risk two to four times higher, while those with many large moles are five times more likely to develop melanoma than the general population. But put the two risk factors together and the risk of developing melanoma isn’t simply added, it’s multiplied.”
It’s important to keep your skin protected year round, not just during the spring and summer months. Here are five tips to practice sun safety:
1. Wear sunscreen
This is a no-brainer. Wear sunscreen daily and reapply every two hours!
2. Get regular skin checks
Caught early, melanoma has a nearly 100 percent cure rate. It’s imperative to get a full-body exam by a board-certified dermatologist at least annually and perform regular self-exams at-home to spot any spacious moles, markings and/or freckles.
3. Don’t forget sun protective accessories
This includes harts, sunglasses and UPF clothing. Keep a lightweight scarf in the glove compartment of your car to cover your neck, chest and knees while driving.
4. Avoid being in the sun from 10AM-4PM
The UV index is the strongest during the day. Remember: shade is your friend!