MC1R ‘Ginger Gene’ Carriers At Higher Risk of Melanoma, Whether You’re A Redhead Or Not

mother and her two daughters on the beach in summer

mother and her two daughters on the beach in summer

Those carrying a melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R), also known as the ‘ginger gene’ responsible for red hair, could be at double the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. This is made more terrifying by the fact that this is regardless of whether you’re a redhead or not and is prior to any UV exposure all.

The research comes out of a scientific study by JAMA Dermatology, who set out “to study the role of the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) and melanoma risk independently from UVR”, according to their study notes.

This is scary, scary stuff, particularly as it is estimated that around 40% of the UK’s population carry the MC1R gene. Put simply, when a ginger child is born, it is because both parents carry the MC1R gene, so this new research affects a hefty number of people.

Until now, similar genetic testing had only been conducted on mice, but JAMA’s study involved 1791 adults. Of this number, 991 people had previously been diagnosed with melanoma and 800 without. The results showed that carriers of MC1R variants were at increased melanoma risk independent of their sun exposure.

Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, which is a cancerous growth that develops when there is unrepaired DNA damage to skin cells most likely caused by UV exposure.

Further studies into the causes of melanoma development in the individuals of JAMA’s study is required.

Follow our steps on how to check your moles and skin or read JAMA’s research report.


By Emma



Emma dresses herself in mismatched multi-seasonal clothing and has a talent for sniffing out the next opportunity for coffee.She believes that any new band with a female musician is the next big thing and that whoever is currently dating Ryan Gosling is the luckiest lady on earth.Her biggest obsession is shopping online for castles, (probably) fueled by childish fantasies of finding her prince and settling down for a life of luxury, bathing in a pool of gin and bitter lemon.Other than that, though, she’ll be incessantly researching the latest gingerful news to deliver to Gingerkind.

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