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November 7 2012

Redheads may be at higher risk of melanoma even without sun


Doctors have long urged people with red hair, fair skin and freckles to avoid the sun and its damaging ultraviolet rays. To venture outdoors without a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen was simply courting skin cancer, they cautioned.

Now, however, a study in mice suggests that those among us with ginger hair and fair complexions face an elevated risk of the disease even when covered up.

The study, published online Wednesday in the journal Nature, suggests that the same reddish-yellow pigment that gives rise to rusty locks and an inability to tan is itself a potential trigger in the development of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

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