A new study could hold the key to why some of us burn in the sun while others tan.
The findings could help pinpoint a person’s risk of developing melanoma by determining whether their genes are capable of protecting them from sun damage.
Over several years, genetic data was collected from almost 180,000 people from Australia, Britain, the Netherlands and the United States.
“We’ve looked for genes involved in skin tanning, otherwise known as those that respond to the sun,” Associate Professor David Duffy said.
Researchers discovered 14 new genes and found people with European heritage will tan more darkly after sun exposure.
Norwegian student Alex Sowke would agree. She says her dark complexion rarely turns red.
“I can just sit here for the whole day and I’m not getting burnt,” she said.
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Associate Professor Duffy says it mostly comes down to to the family tree, and those with certain backgrounds are prone to skin cancer.
“A lot of the population have that kind of Celtic background, so they’ve got that paler skin, so more susceptible to ravages of sunlight,” he said.
Eventually, researchers hope the newly discovered genes will determine which people are most at risk of getting sunburnt and developing skin cancer as a result.
“They might point to new drugs that could be used for melanoma so people are less susceptible to being sunburnt,” Associate Professor Duffy said.