Obesity and deadliest form of skin cancer 'have genetic link'Scientists find gene FTO may have role in obesity and skin cancerStudy looked at DNA of 73,000 patients including 13,000 with skin cancerPreviously though illness was mainly caused by sunbathing and sunbeds
Daily Mail Reporter
01:14 GMT, 4 March 2013
19:45 GMT, 4 March 2013
A link between obesity and the deadliest form of skin cancer has been uncovered by scientists.
They found that the gene most strongly related to being very overweight also increases the risk of malignant melanoma, implying that people who are obese may be at increased risk of developing skin cancer.
Until now experts thought that the illness was primarily caused by intense sunbathing or frequent use of sunbeds.
Scientists have found the gene most strongly related to being very overweight also increases the risk of malignant melanoma
But researchers from Cancer Research UK and the University of Leeds believe the gene called FTO may also have a role.
Their study, published in the journal Nature Genetics, looked at the DNA of 73,000 patients including 13,000 with skin cancer.
Those with a particular variation of the FTO gene were far more likely to develop the illness.
Malignant melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK with around 12,800 new cases and around 2,200 deaths each year.
Experts previously thought that malignant melanoma was primarily caused by intense sunbathing or frequent use of sunbeds (file picture)
Lead author Dr Mark Iles, said: ‘This is the first time to our knowledge that this major obesity gene, already linked to multiple illnesses, has been linked to melanoma.
‘This raises the question whether future research will reveal that the gene has a role in even more diseases.’
Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK’s senior science information manager, said: ‘These are fascinating early findings that, if confirmed in further research, could potentially provide new targets for the development of drugs to treat melanoma.
‘Advances in understanding more about the molecules driving skin cancer have already enabled us to develop important new skin cancer drugs that will make a real difference for patients.’