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Researchers Discovering A Way To Prevent Redheads From Skin Cancer


Updated: November 2, 2020. This study is still in the works. Information below is current. 

You may have heard about the drug that will tan a redhead’s skin without going in the sun. Now, we hear they’re developing a drug to stop redheads from getting skin cancer!

It has long been known that redheads are more susceptible to melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. The pigmentation in our skin and the Melanocortin 1 Receptor (MC1R) mutation that gives us red hair also creates a pathway to cancer when combined with UV rays.

Another study also suggests that natural redheads are at greater risk of melanoma even if they never go out in the sun. ABC News reported that the study doesn’t “diminish the importance of sun exposure” as a key contributing factor in the pathogenesis of melanoma. SO– redheads beware!  You’re at higher risk of skin cancer no matter what.

But, for the very first time, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have shown that there is a way to reduce cancer risk in redheads.

These recent findings appeared in the journal Nature. The studies showed MC1R is affected by a special modification process called palmitoylation. By enhancing this modification in MC1R, a redhead’s cancer risk can be reduced.

READ: Jesse Tyler Ferguson Photo Reminds Redheads They’re At A Higher Melanoma Risk

READ: Study Says Redheads Can Tan But React Badly to It At The Same Time 

The basis of this study was centered on why redheads are prone to melanoma and how MC1R is affected by UV radiation, a reason they lacked an explanation for so long. In the mouse studies, the researchers “used a small molecule which could increase palmitoylation of MC1R named palmostatin B and then exposed the model to UV light. The control group, without palmostatin B treatment, was also exposed to the UV light and showed a significant higher rate of developing melanoma.”

The authors of the studies concluded that their findings, “highlight a central role for MC1R palmitoylation in pigmentation and protection against melanoma.”

“These results suggest pharmacological activation of palmitoylation prevents melanoma skin cancer in this particular model,” says one author of the study.

They hope this study allows for the growth of a pharmacological prevention plan for redheads to protect their skin and enjoy the sun like everyone else.

What do you think about all of this crazy science to assist redheads in the sun?

Credit: Nature & ACSH

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