Mind and Body

Genetic Faults Can Increase Risk of Skin Cancer, Study Says

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.