Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer and it has been shown through previous research studies that the risk is increased by exposure to sunlight, whose UV rays cause damage to DNA that triggers cancer. However, it has not been clear why some people are more prone than others to melanoma. Researchers have now found out through a study involving a group of 312 people with melanoma that those with fair skin have lowered DNA repair capacity and are more likely to develop skin cancer. They analysed the DNA repair capacity of this group of people affected by melanoma and found that they had an average 19 per cent reduced capacity to heal the DNA damage inflicted by sunlight. Those with this reduced capacity tended to be those with fair skin, light hair and light eye color - who have previously been shown to be more at risk.
Researchers concluded that this study, which is the first to link DNA repair capacity to melanoma, could one day lead to the discovery of a new screening test that would help people to know if they are at a risk of skin cancer.