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Why Are People With Red Hair More Prone To Skin Cancer?

Redheads have the same skin cancer risk equivalent to someone who had 21 years of skin exposure simply by existing

We often talk about how important it is for redheads to wear SPF and use proper sun protection because of the elevated risk of skin cancer. Most people think the reason redheads are more likely to get skin cancer is because most of us have fair skin and burn easily. This is true, but the elevated risk goes much deeper than that. 

Redheads’ increased risk actually comes from our DNA

Redheads are more prone to skin cancer because of a genetic variation in the melanocortin 1 receptor (MC1R) gene. This gene is responsible for producing melanin, which provides some protection against harmful UV rays from the sun. Redheads have a specific variant of this gene that results in less efficient production of melanin, leading to reduced protection against UV radiation and an increased risk of developing skin cancer. As a result, they are more susceptible to sunburn and skin damage from prolonged sun exposure. It’s essential for redheads and others to take proper sun protection measures to reduce their risk of skin cancer.

The highest risk for redheads is a skin cancer called melanoma. It’s possibly the most well-known and the most deadly of skin cancers. Redheads carry a mutation in our MC1R gene, and this mutation causes redheads to have the same skin cancer risk equivalent of someone who had 21 years of skin exposure simply by existing. The research behind why is still being done, but for now, we know we’re at a higher risk and the best thing we can do is keep ourselves safe. 

Does the high risk of melanoma mean redheads have a higher chance of getting other cancers? 

While redheads are known to have a higher risk of developing skin cancer due to their genetic variation in the MC1R gene, there is no substantial evidence suggesting that they are more prone to other types of cancer solely because of their hair color.

Cancer risk is a complex interplay of various factors, including genetics, lifestyle, environmental exposures, and other individual characteristics. While the MC1R gene may contribute to an increased risk of skin cancer, it does not necessarily impact the risk of developing other types of cancer.

As with anyone, it’s essential for redheads to adopt a healthy lifestyle, undergo regular health checkups, and be aware of other risk factors associated with different types of cancer to reduce their overall cancer risk. If you have concerns about cancer risk or any health-related matters, it’s always best to consult with a medical professional for personalized advice and guidance.

Know the signs of skin cancer 

The signs of skin cancer can vary depending on the type of skin cancer, but some common signs to watch out for include:

1. A new growth: Look for any new, unusual growth on your skin, such as a bump, spot, or mole.

2. Changes in existing moles: Pay attention to moles that change in size, shape, color, or texture.

3. Irregular borders: Melanomas, a type of skin cancer, often have uneven or irregular borders.

4. Color changes: Keep an eye on moles or growths that have multiple colors or an unusual color, like blue or white.

5. Itching or tenderness: Skin cancer may cause itching, tenderness, or pain in the affected area.

6. Bleeding or oozing: Be concerned if a mole or growth starts to bleed, ooze, or become crusty.

If you notice any of these signs or have any other concerns about changes in your skin, it’s essential to take action:

1. Schedule a medical appointment: Make an appointment with a dermatologist or a healthcare professional who can evaluate the area of concern.

2. Early detection is key: Promptly addressing any suspicious changes can lead to early detection, which increases the chances of successful treatment.

3. Avoid sun exposure: While awaiting your appointment, protect the area from further sun exposure to prevent potential damage.

4. Don’t panic: Not every skin irregularity is cancer, but it’s essential to have it checked by a professional to be sure.

Remember, self-checks and regular visits to a dermatologist for skin examinations are crucial in monitoring any changes in your skin and catching potential issues early.

Rock it like a Redhead! 


READ: Skin Cancer Risk For Redheads Is Equivalent to 21 Years In The Sun

READ: 7 Ways Redheads Can Help Reduce Their Chances of Getting Skin Cancer