July 6, 2009

Researchers find cancer link to freckles

Freckles and numerous birthmarks are risk factors for the most lethal form of skin cancer, Swedish researchers reported.

The genes that cause malignant melanoma are related to the genes associated with red hair, researchers at Lund University told Tidningamas Telegrambyra, the Swedish news agency, Monday. The genes related to the number of birthmarks are also linked to a melanoma risk, Professor Hakan Olsson said.

Olsson is a senior doctor in the oncology department at Lund University Hospital.

An international research group studied 10,000 people and found the relationship between melanoma and the genes associated with red hair and freckles is stronger than expected. Further research is expected to factor in both genetic information and lifestyle, the report said.

The Swedish researchers also found skin cancers are more common in the south of the country, where the university is located, than the far north, which is bombarded by half the ultraviolet radiation.