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Sun Only One Factor in Skin Cancer

Thursday, 06 December 2012 11:21 AM

You’ve heard the advice countless times: To avoid skin cancer stay out of the sun or use sunscreen. But new research suggests skin cancer risk is more complicated than that and sun exposure is just one of many factors that increase a person’s odds of getting it.

By taking account of the other risk factors — including a person’s family history of cancer, ethnicity, and genetic variations specific to each individual — doctors could more accurately identify those at risk and help them take steps to stay safe.

Those are the chief findings of new research by scientists from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Wisconsin-Madison that suggests healthcare providers use a more detail assessment that goes beyond UV exposure to gauge patients’ skin cancer risk.
"We hope this study will ultimately contribute toward a better understanding of the genetics of complex traits and diseases," said Ana Inés Vázquez, from UAB's Department of Biostatistics, who led the study published in the journal Genetics. "Such an understanding is essential for the development of methods that can be used for early and improved prediction of genetic predisposition to diseases."

For the study, researchers analyzed genetic information from more than 5,000 participants in the long-running Framingham Heart Study to develop a model program for assessing skin cancer risk. The results showed the model that best predicted a patient’s skin cancer risk took into account sun exposure, but also gender, family history, ethnicity, and data from thousands of genetic markers.
Refining the model so that it could be used by healthcare providers to assess their patient’s risks would offer a better way to help prevent skin cancer than simply advising them to limit or avoid the sun’s rays.
"Although there is no doubt that sun exposure increases your risk for skin cancer," said Mark Johnston, the journal’s editor, "it isn't clear how much of a risk it poses to each individual. This new model for assessing risk should prove useful to health care providers and public health officials, who play a crucial role in educating people about preventing skin cancer."
The study was funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health.

© HealthDay

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New research suggests sun exposure is just one of many factors that increase skin cancer risk.
Thursday, 06 December 2012 11:21 AM
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