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03 Nov

Higher risk for redheads?

According to a research posted by Nature recently, redheads stand a higher risk of getting skin cancer even without exposure to the sun. It's well known that their skin is more sensitive to the sun's ultraviolet rays, making them burn quicker for example. Red heads have a different form of pigment in their skin, that is less effective at protecting the skin from damage done by UV-rays. But it turns out that it's not only the lack of protection from the UV-rays that increases the risk of getting skin cancer. The research done by scientists at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston suggests the pigments in themselves already play a role in the development of skin cancer, even without the skin being over exposed to the UV-rays of the sun. 

It shouldn't be an extra warning however to those with red hair and light skin, no need to be afraid that they would spontaneaously develop melanoma. In the way the research was conducted, the skin's (actually the mouses skin) sensitivity was increased artificially, making the development of skin cancer easier. In real life, on humans there's no need to take extra caution, other than the caution already necessary. The researchers think that this mechanism helps explain in more detail why redheads are more liable to getting skin cancer, but state that the chance of spontaneously getting it remains very very slim. 

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