Those with red hair, fair skin and freckles know to be wary of the sun. And for good reason. It’s all to do with a gene known as MC1R. Redheads carry two copies of the MC1R gene and produce melanin that is less able to protect them from the sun. If that wasn’t enough reason to cover up, it’s now been discovered that melanoma skin cancer in redheads has more mutations than in people who do not have that variant of the MC1R gene, mutations said to be comparable to the impact an extra 21 years of sun exposure would have on those without the gene variant. But none of us can afford to be complacent. This research also suggests that those who carry one copy of the MC1R gene variant, but don’t have red hair, are at equal risk of skin cancer and the same number of mutations.