Many research studies have been conducted, and the general consensus is that people with paler skin are at greater risk of developing skin cancer. This information will probably not come at much of a surprise to most people. Individuals with very blonde or red hair notoriously become sunburned much more easily when their unprotected skin is exposed to direct sunlight. But why? According to an article published on the website MedicalNewsToday.com, individuals with pale skin possess a great amount of a specific gene called “MC1R.” And a variant of this gene, called “V60L” has been associated with red/blonde hair and fair skin.
What Does This Mean For You?
Essentially, the article stresses that the variant V60L has been associated with an increased risk of melanoma. Melanoma is one of the most dangerous types of skin cancer that a person can have. Therefore, individuals that carry the V60L gene variant can assume they are at greater risk of developing skin cancer.
Skin Type = Risk Factor
As with many types of cancer, certain risk factors give you a greater likelihood of developing it. For example, genetics, your living environment, and your job setting all play a role in your propensity to develop certain types of cancer. Typically, individuals with darker skin, or more pigmentation, are born with built-in protection from the sun’s dangerous ultraviolet rays. But this fact should not provide people with a false sense of security – because anyone can develop skin cancer, no matter how light or dark their skin pigment. Regular examinations of the skin by a dermatologist are important for everyone to ensure their skin is healthy.
Other Common Risk Factors
Besides having fair or pale colored skin, there are several other factors that play a role in the likelihood that you will develop skin cancer at some point in your life:
One or More Severe Sunburns When You Were Young: Many of today’s adults remember having a multitude of sunburns when they were young. This is partially due to the fact that people were not as aware then as they are today of the importance of wearing sunscreen to prevent sunburns. It is also partially due to a lack of knowledge of the dangers of direct and prolonged exposure to the sun. Nonetheless, anyone who experienced one or more severe sunburns when they were young has an increased risk of developing skin cancer as an adult.
Not Wearing Sunscreen: When people, both young and old, expose themselves to direct sunlight, they automatically increase their risk of developing skin cancer.
Tanning beds: No matter what a tanning bed business tells you about the safety of tanning beds, artificial tanning is not healthy for your skin, and is not a good idea.
There are many other risk factors to consider, such as having moles, skin lesions, a family history of skin cancer, previous bouts of skin cancer, an autoimmune disease, and more. To ensure your skin is in the healthiest condition possible, and to be evaluated for the development of skin cancer, it’s important to visit your dermatologist on a regular basis for an evaluation. This is especially important for anyone who may carry the gene variant V60L.