Air Date: Week of October 20, 2000
Living On Earth’s Diane Toomey reports that you don’t have to be a redhead to get skin cancer like one.
TOOMEY: We know that as a group, redheads have a higher chance of getting skin cancer than non-carrot tops. But new research shows being fair-skinned and red-haired isn't the only risk factor. Australian scientists tested a group of skin cancer patients for variations of a gene that controls pigment. Some versions of this gene lead to red hair, and also code for the production of red skin pigment in response to sunlight. The researchers found that many people with dark hair and skin who carry the recessive form of this gene have double the risk of getting melanoma compared to those who don't have this gene at all. The only way to find out if you have this form of the gene is to get tested. Researchers say when it comes to skin cancer, it may be necessary to delve more than skin-deep to gauge your true risk. That's this week's health update. I'm Diane Toomey.
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