New genes implicated in whether skin will burn in the sun

Researchers at TwinsUK have identified ten new genetic regions involved in whether a person is likely to tan or burn. These new regions also suggest who may be more likely to develop skin cancer.

Sunburn is already a known risk factor for skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in Europe, but whether a person’s skin will burn or tan varies widely from person to person.

In the largest study to date of skin’s tendency to tan or burn, TwinsUK researchers Mario Falchi and Alessia Visconti of King’s Department of Twin Research, in a collaborative effort with colleagues from across the world, analysed genetic data from 176,678 individuals of European ancestry. As well as identifying new genetic regions that indicate whether or not a person will tan or burn, one of these regions, which has previously been associated with melanoma, may directly increase the risk of cancer by reducing the ability of the skin to tan.

The study’s results have doubled the number of genetic regions known to be involved in tanning versus burning. Their discovery paves the way for further research to explore how the genetic regions contribute to the risk of skin cancer.

This research is published in Nature Communications. Find out more and read the paper here.

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