(more at link)Sunshine is not the main cause of the most dangerous form of skin cancer, according to researchers, who say some warnings about the perils of sunbathing are scaring people unnecessarily.
Scientists, whose research appears in the current issue of the journal Nature Genetics, claim the number of moles on your skin is the most important factor in the risk of getting melanoma. This reignites the debate over whether official health warnings about avoiding the sun are overstated.
The authors of the research paper maintain sunshine causes only a small proportion of melanoma cases. They believe health warnings would be more useful if they focused on people who have more than 100 moles, and taught them to check regularly the moles for changes in shape, size or colour.
Melanoma can be treated – for instance by the early removal of a suspicious mole – but it is the most serious type of skin cancer, as it can spread to other organs in the body. The cancer can start in an existing mole or on normal-looking skin, and can occur in people who have no moles but have fair skin and freckles.
Melanoma is relatively rare, accounting for 10% of all skin cancer cases, but it is responsible for most skin-cancer deaths. About 1,500 people die every year in England and Wales of malignant melanoma.
An international team of researchers from Queensland, Australia, Montreal, Canada and Philadelphia, America, led by King’s College London, identified two genes which dictate how many moles someone will have, and their risk of getting skin cancer. Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London, said: “The number of moles you have is one of the strongest risk factors for melanoma – stronger than sunshine. This paper shows that we found two important genes that control the number of moles you have. Those genes also give you an extra risk of melanoma.”
Dr Veronique Bataille, a researcher at King’s College, London, and dermatologist at West Hertfordshire NHS Trust, argues that we have overemphasised the risk of sun exposure. Bataille said: “As a dermatologist working in the melanoma field for nearly 20 years, I feel quite strongly that there is always an overemphasis on sunshine. You often read that nearly all melanomas are caused by sunshine – which is not supported by the evidence. The more research we do, the more we realise that sunshine is a small part of the puzzle.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/u ... 690007.ece
Wow. You mean all those billions of people who are in the sun all the time, and who never get skin cancer, were right all along? And the scientist were wrong?
This goes hand in hand with the research that shows lack of Vit D is a far more serious problem (rickets and increased cancer risk) than sunshine.
What next, sunblock is actually bad for you?