The Skin Cancer Foundation state that ultraviolet (UV) radiation isconsidered the primary cause of basal and squamous cell skin cancers, while Liang and colleagues note that UV exposure is the cause of more than 90 percent of melanoma skin cancers.
UV radiation – from sunlight and tanning beds and lamps – damages the DNA of skin cells, which can cause genetic mutations that lead to skin cancer.
But in the new study, the researchers reveal the discovery of a gene that appears to protect against the effects of UV-related skin cell damage, paving the way for a possible preventive strategy for skin cancer.
For their study, Liang and colleagues investigated the function of the UV radiation resistance-associated gene (UVRAG).
Previous research has suggested the gene plays a role in a disease called xeroderma pigmentosum, which increases sensitivity to sunlight, raising the risk for skin cancer.
However, the role of UVRAG among healthy individuals and those with skin cancer has been unclear.