Red Melanoma Alert

It’s a theory that’s only been proven in mice, but scientists believe there’s something about being a redhead when it comes to risk factors for developing the particularly lethal skin cancer known as melanoma.

The deadliest of all skin cancers, melanoma seems to proliferate more in mice with red fur — even those with virtually no sun exposure — according to a recent study reported in the journal Nature and conducted by doctors at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Does that mean red heads are doomed to contract melanoma? Researchers offered a qualified no. They acknowledged this is preliminary research and far from medical gospel, but explain what they learned is that mice with certain features and certain genetic mutations seemed to be the most vulnerable to the effects of ultraviolet light exposure that is known to play a role in all skin cancers. At the very least, they say their findings suggest that there is a predisposition to melanoma in certain populations.

Meanwhile, the brunettes and blondes in the crowd should continue to join their redheaded friends in making high SPF sunscreen — and visits to the dermatologist for annual skin evaluations — a regular health and beauty practice.