Natural redheads, take note: When it comes to skin cancer, your risk is so high, it’s comparable to two decades of sun exposure! That’s according to researchers at the Sanger Institute. They found that people with red hair can carry a gene that raises their risk of sun-related skin cancer. This is the first time the genes linked to red hair have been proven to be linked with DNA cell mutations that lead to skin cancer.

The Sanger Institute estimates 2% of the world’s population – and one out of every four people in the U.K. – carries the gene. And people with two copies of the gene are most likely to have red hair, freckles and pale skin. But if you only have one copy of the gene, your risk is still high, though you may not realize how at-risk you are, because you may not have red hair and freckles. But the gene variant allows more UV light to reach a person’s DNA. And this study shows it’s not simply UV light exposure – it’s how a person’s genes react to it that raises the risk.

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