Cover up

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - WELLBEING -

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.

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