The study, led by Professors Julia Newton Bishop and Tim Bishop (left) of the Melanoma Genetics Consortium (GenoMEL) at the University of Leeds in England, looked at more than 10,000 people, comparing those who have been diagnosed with melanoma to those who do not have the disease.
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Across the large sample, a number of clear genetic patterns emerged. It is already well known that red-haired people, those with fair skin and those who sunburn easily are most at risk of melanoma, and the people who had been diagnosed with melanoma were found to be much more likely to be carrying the genes most closely associated with red hair and freckles.
“This is what we expected to find,” said Professor Bishop of the Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine and the Cancer Research UK Centre at Leeds. “But the links seemed to be much stronger than we anticipated.