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LEEDS, England – British scientists discovered three new genetic faults that can increase the chances of developing deadly skin cancer melanoma by almost a third, research published Monday showed.
Known risk factors for melanoma include having fair skin, blue or green eyes, blond or red hair, a high number of moles, burning easily in the sun, and having a family history of the disease.
But researchers from the University of Leeds, northern England, discovered three new risk genes -- not associated with pigmentation or moles.
In a study of 3,000 patients, scientists found the average one-in-60 risk of getting skin cancer rose to one in 46 if a patient had inherited all three genetic faults from both parents.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, will provide a potential new approach of identifying people most at risk of developing melanoma and other cancers.
Lead author Tim Bishop said: "We know that overexposure to UV increases the risk of developing melanoma -- but this evidence shows that there are new additional genetic faults which can push up the risk further."
"It is fascinating to discover these new melanoma risk factors -- and we expect that the results of similar studies underway will reveal even more," he added.
The genetic faults were found in a gene involved in DNA repair, a gene linked to the sleeping disease narcolepsy, and a gene that triggers automatic cell death.