Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Red Heads Are Not Only Crazy But More Likely To Get Cancer As Well

It's a hot summer day at the beach and all you want to do is run into the cold ocean to cool off but there's always that one adult yelling at you to put sunscreen on before hand. We've all experienced that moment where we're thinking to our selves "I don't need sunscreen I won't be in the sun long anyway." Applying sunscreen is a hassle but for redheads this may actually save your life!

Skin cancer is the abnormal growth of skin cells- most often develops on skin exposed to the sun.
Skin cancer can be cause by the UV radiation from the sun coming in contact with your skin. Sunscreen acts as a protective layer between your skin and to some of the UV radiation the sun admits. It helps block the negative effects that UV radiation can cause on our skin cells. In a recent study it was shown that people with the red hair gene along with the pale skin and freckles gene are more likely to develop skin cancer due to a larger amount of genetic mutations. The red hair variation of the
MC1R gene had 42 percent more mutations than those without the red hair gene.
This difference in percentage between those with these genetic mutations and those with out would be equivalent to an extra 21 years of exposed sunlight. Redheads who also have pale skin and freckles have two copies of the MC1R gene whiles non redheads who are pale skinned and have freckles only have one copy. Those who only have one copy are also at an increased risk for developing skin cancer. 400 people's DNA, who have tumors, were sequenced and it was found that just having one copy of the MC1R gene increased the genetic mutations greatly. In the future more studies will be run to try and lessen the risk for developing cancer for these people with the copy of the MC1R gene. About 2 percent of the world are redheads meaning there are a lot of people at risk for developing skin melanoma, one of the most fatal types of cancer.


  1. Very interesting! After learning that there are around 22,000 genes in the human genome, it's shocking to see that there is only one gene that codes for red hair, pale skin, and freckles. I would've thought that a lot more genes were involved with this mutation. My cousin is a pale skinned red head with a lot of freckles. Every summer I don't normally use sunscreen and never get burnt and she uses a lot but still manages to get burnt. It's also very interesting that red heads with pale skin and freckles have two copies of the MC1R gene. I wonder why red heads with pale skin and freckles have two copies of the gene. I'll have to search that! Overall, this was a great post!

  2. This is a really great and informative article! Personally I am a red head and unfortunately I forget to apply sun block more than half of the time. After reading this article I will definitely remember to do so more often than not. But I do wonder if a red head without freckles still have two copies of the MC1R Gene? Something to ponder I suppose!

  3. My 6 month old is a red head and so is my twin sister, so I'm interested in anything that could impact their health. Does the article mention any further research into reducing the health impacts of the mutations?