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Cancer-Fighting Gene Guards Against Sun Damage

Posted: March 8, 2007
A gene that is known to play a key role in suppressing cancer also seems to protect against sun damage while promoting a golden tan.

The revelation could one day lead to better ways to prevent skin cancer, which roughly 1 million Americans develop each year.

"This finding provides us an opportunity to look at human populations with a varied risk of developing skin cancer and start to identify precisely what is regulating the risk of developing skin cancer rather than estimating," said senior study author Dr. David Fisher, director of the melanoma program at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard Medical School. "Right now, we're incredibly inaccurate in identifying risk and, therefore, in ameliorating risk."

The findings are published in the March 9 issue of Cell.

People who tan easily or have darker skin are much less likely to develop melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.