Do you have the 'sunscreen gene'? It could protect you against cancer

You won’t believe it, but there is such a thing as the ‘sunscreen gene’.

Researchers from the University of Southern California in the United States are saying that if you have it you might just be protected against skin cancer, including melanoma.

The gene is said to help you repair the effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world.

It’s estimated that on average 30 Australians will be diagnosed with melanoma every day and more than 1,200 will die from the disease each year.

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What the researchers did was give a UV shot to cells carrying the normal UV-resistant gene and a shot to the cells carrying either low levels or a mutated copy of the gene.

The found that after 24 hours the cells with the normal version of the gene had repaired more than 50 per cent of the damage caused by the UV, but those with the defective gene were only able to repair around 20 per cent of the damage.

“That means that when people sunbathe or go tanning, those who have the normal UV-resistant gene can repair most UV-induced DNA burns in a timely manner,” Chengyu Liang, the study’s senior author, says.

She adds that if you have the mutated UV-resistant gene or low levels of the gene you might be at a higher risk of melanoma or other skin cancers.

Have you ever been treated for skin cancer? What measures do you take to protect yourself from the sun?