It has long been known that it is the defect in the MCR1 gene that causes red hair, freckling and an increased incidence of melanoma.
Red hair (increased pheomelanin) appears in people with two copies of a mutation in the MC1R (melanocyte-stimulating hormone receptor). Basically, this is a receptor that when stimulated makes the skin cells (called melanocytes) make more pigment (called melanin). This receptor is also activated by the sun which causes a cascade that can result in the development of various forms of skin cancer including the deadly melanoma.
But a new mouse study published in the journal Nature suggests that natural redheads are at a greater risk of melanoma –– even if they never go out in the sun.
ABC News reported the study doesn’t “diminish the importance of sun exposure” as a key contributing factor in the pathogenesis of melanoma
So, redheads beware! You’re at higher risk of skin cancer no matter what. Forget about laying out in the sun. Embrace your fair skin, wear sunscreen and get regular skin check-ups to catch melanoma early. If you must have color, there are plenty of great sunless tanners out on the market to give your skin that special glow.
Rock it like a Redhead!