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Red heads are ‘100 times more susceptible to skin cancer’

It’s no secret that people with red hair and pale skin are more prone to getting sunburn, and have an increased risk of contracting skin cancer as a result.

However, a study has revealed just how vulnerable ginger-haired people are to the disease and the results are shocking.

According to researchers at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, red heads are up to 100 times more likely to contract the worst form of skin cancer – melanoma.

Leader of the study Dr Wenyi Wei commented: “Together, our findings provide a possible molecular mechanism as to why red-haired individuals harbouring MC1R mutations are much more susceptible to UV-induced skin damage than individuals with darker skin, resulting in a ten to 100-fold higher frequency of melanoma.”

This essentially means people with the red-hair gene have skin that is less protected against the UV light contained in the sun’s rays.

Melanoma accounts for around 75 per cent of all skin cancer deaths in the UK and some 13,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every single year.

One of the major causes of the disease is sunburn, as being over exposed to harmful UV rays is proven to significantly increase a person’s chances of developing the condition. This research demonstrates just how important it is for ginger-haired people to stay safe in the sun.

However, while red heads may be more at risk, it is crucial for people of all colours and skin types to protect themselves from over exposure, as sun burn and skin cancer can affect everyone.

An August survey by Cancer Research UK has revealed men may be particularly vulnerable to the disease. It found that in every 100,000 males, 3.4 will die as a result of melanoma, yet the figure is just two for women.

This means men are 70 per cent more likely to have a fatal case of the condition than women, which once again brings home the importance of avoiding sunburn.

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