A new study published in the journal Molecular Cell suggests that the gene which is responsible for red hair increases the risk of worst form of skin cancer by more than a 100 times.
A mutation in the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) gene has been known to be responsible for the red color of hair. A number of studies have shown the gene plays a key role in protecting melanocytes from UV-induced DNA damage by binding to and protecting another gene, PTEN that is known for its ability to suppress tumors.
Now a joint study conducted by researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) and Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) suggests that the same gene also increases the vulnerability for cancer by promoting an important cancer-causing pathway.
"In this current study, we have demonstrated that the mutation MC1R-RHC promotes the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway when a red-haired individual is exposed to UV radiation", lead researcher Wenyi Wei said.