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Gender Linked to Development of Skin Cancer

to cause inflammation (sunburn) and its attendant redness, swelling and increased vascular flow.

Thomas-Ahner compared various measures of the inflammatory response in the male and female groups, noting the degree of swelling, antioxidant levels, DNA damage in the skin and the levels of myeloperoxidase in the tissue.

Myeloperoxidase is an enzyme that reflects the extent of neutrophil infiltration, the first step in the inflammatory response. Antioxidants help repair damaged DNA and also help clean up toxic byproducts of injured tissue.

She discovered significant differences between the two groups. The male mice registered a weaker inflammatory response than did the females, as measured by the thickness of their skin and myeloperoxidase levels. They also had more extensive DNA damage in their skin and lower antioxidant levels in their skin than the females.

In a second experiment, Thomas-Ahner exposed male and female mice to longer, chronic sun exposure, irradiating them three times weekly for 16 weeks. When the mice were 25 weeks old, she examined them for differences in tumor growth, size and number.

She found that male mice developed tumors earlier and had more tumors than did female mice. The tumors in the male mice also tended to be larger and more aggressive than were those in the female mice.

Oberyszyn and Thomas-Ahner also noted that the difference in the antioxidant capacity between male and female mice was present in the untreated skin as well as the treated skin. Oberyszyn, a member of the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, believes that the greater amount of naturally occurring antioxidant capacity in the females accounted for their ability to thwart a certain degree of tumor growth and spread.

"This is the first time anyone has ever looked at the effect of gender on the development of UVB-induced skin cancers in such a controlled environment," says Oberyszy
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