People suffering from skin disease vitiligo may have natural resistance against skin cancer, according to a new study.
Vitiligo is a condition that leads to pale skin patches that lack pigment and burn easily - leading to an assumed increased risk of skin cancer, reports the BBC.
However, a new study, conducted by researchers at the University of London, identified a common gene mutation that both increases the chance of vitiligo and cuts cancer risk.
The results are based on a genetic testing of 1,514 patients with vitiligo and 2,813 without. Seven genes in total were identified that were linked to vitiligo.
Some 70 percent of the general population had the combination that increases the risk of vitiligo while reducing the risk of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.
The remaining 30 percent had a different version that raises melanoma risk while lessening the chances of vitiligo.
Although everyone has one of the two variants, neither guarantees that either vitiligo or melanoma will actually develop. Likewise, neither guarantees protection, the study added.
The genes identified were already associated with autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.
This prompted suggestions the study may even lead to improvements in treatment for vitiligo.
The findings are reported in the New England Journal of Medicine.