Genes Explain Higher Risk of Melanoma in Men

A recent study published in Biology of Sex Differences identified potential genetic variants related to a higher rate of melanoma in males of Spanish origin. Researchers analyzed more than 1,000 males and females, and genotyped 363 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from 65 pigmentation gene regions. When they separated samples by sex, the results showed more SNPs associated with dark pigmentation and good sun tolerance in females. Males, on the other hand, were associated with light pigmentation and poor sun tolerance. "The study included 384 genetic variants and six physical characteristics,” says Conrado Martínez-Cadenas, lecturer at the university. “The results show that, with the same genetic variability, men tend to have lighter skin pigmentation and a worse response to the effects of ultraviolet rays."

The study was done in conjunction with a research group led by Gloria Ribas, Ph.D., at Incliva Biomedical Research Institute. It involved 1,057 participants, 550 which with melanoma cases. The participants were given a survey with questions on sex, age, pigmentation characteristics (eye color, hair color, skin color, and presence of solar lentigines), history of childhood sunburns, Fitzpatrick’s skin type classification, and personal and family history of cancer. According to the study, the results reveled the presence of sex-specific effects in human pigmentation that might be related to not only skin color and sunlight sensitivity, but also in higher incidence of melanoma described in males.—Isabela Palmieri