Bad news for redheads: lowering sun exposure not enough to keep melanoma away

As a redhead (albeit now mainly a bald/grey haired one) I’ve always been careful about sun exposure. I wear a hat and long clothes and sunscreen when I go out. And I get checked out by a dermatologist annually.

According to a new study it looks like I’m doing the right thing, but it still may not be enough. From MedPage Today:

Experiments with mice suggest they are at greater risk even if they never go out in the sun — thanks to a genetic mechanism that’s linked to their fair coloring, Fisher and colleagues reported online inĀ Nature.

“We’ve known for a long time that people with red hair and fair skin have the highest melanoma risk of any skin type,” Fisher said in a statement. “The risk for people with this skin type has not changed, but now we know that blocking UV radiation — which continues to be essential — may not be enough.”

Melanoma may appear even in places where the sun don’t shine, so there’s long been a suspicion that UV exposure isn’t everything.

I guess the best hope now is that mice aren’t like people. But since they probably are I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and encourage other redheads to do the same.

November 2, 2012

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