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deCODE Discovers Novel Genetic Links Between Pigmentation Traits and Risk of Skin Cancer
Date:5/18/2008

to confer a 20% increased risk of CM and a 14% increase in risk of BCC compared to non-carriers. These increases in risk remain significant even after accounting for the effect of the pigmentation traits themselves on cancer risk. Furthermore, several other variants that deCODE has also linked to freckling and sensitivity to sun did not show any detectable link to skin cancer.

"It is common knowledge that people with fairer complexions tend to be more sensitive to the sun, and that extensive exposure to sun or repeated burning can increase the risk of skin cancers. But we are now showing that there are a variety of different genetic bases for what appear to be the same pigmentation characteristics, and we have demonstrated that certain of these carry with them greater risk of skin cancer than do others. This information is important for understanding the biology of skin cancers, particularly as it appears that these variants may be conferring some of this additional risk through a mechanism independent of their role in giving rise to sun-sensitive skin. These findings may also be useful for helping individuals to better gauge their susceptibility to skin cancer, and we are therefore very pleased to be including these variants in our deCODEme(TM) service," said Kari Stefansson, CEO of deCODE.

The papers, 'Two newly identified genetic determinants of pigmentation in Europeans' and 'ASIP and TYR pigmentation variants associate with cutaneous melanoma and basal cell carcinoma,' are published today in the online edition of Nature Genetics, at http://www.nature.com/ng, and will be published in an upcoming print edition of the journal.

This research was supported in part by the Intramural Research Program of the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, by a subcontract agreement to deCODE Genetics under Westat contract N02-CP-91026 to the
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