Do You Tan Easily? It Might Be Your Genes

Ever notice that some people tend to tan easier than others? Believe it or not, this trait may be based on your genetic makeup.

Sun and Skin

Seeking to determine the role of genes in skin tanning, a team of researchers from King’s College London reviewed the genes of a very sizable group of participants. Over 170,000 individuals agreed to take part in the study, all of whom were of European descent. Each participant was asked about their skin’s response to sunlight exposure-specifically, whether their skin tanned or burned due to the sun.

Some subjects noted that their skin always seemed to burn, but never tan. On the other end of the spectrum, some participants found that their skin tanned while never getting burned. Thanks to the large amount of input from their subjects, the King’s College team was able to document a wide range of genes linked to skin tanning. In fact, their research doubled the amount of genetic regions linked to sunlight-induced skin bronzing, as ten new pigmentation genes were identified as being potential risk factors for skin cancer.

Gauging Skin Cancer Risk

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer to develop among Americans of European descent. This fact helps explain why so many Americans are diagnosed with this disease; the American Academy of Dermatology Reports that roughly twenty percent of Americans will suffer from skin cancer at some point in their lives.

In press release detailing his team’s report, senior study author Mario Falchi stressed the need for further research to be done on this topic. “Our findings provide a set of genes that now need to be further explored to understand their contribution to increased risk of skin cancer,” stated Falchi.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, annual diagnoses of skin cancer outnumber all other cases of cancer combined. Skin cancer extracts a heavy toll on the US economy, with a treatment costs tallying over $8 billion each year.

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