Obesity gene found to be risk factor for skin cancer

Obesity gene found to be risk factor for skin cancerLondon, March 5 : Researchers have found that the first evidence that an obesity gene is also a risk factor for melanoma.

Variations in a different part of the FTO gene, called intron 1, are already known to be the most important genetic risk factor for obesity and overeating.

These variants are linked to Body Mass Index (BMI) - a measure of a person''s shape based on their weight and height. Having a high BMI can increase the risk of various diseases including type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, womb (endometrial) cancer and more.

But this research is the first to reveal that the gene affects a disease - melanoma - which isn''t linked to obesity and BMI.

The results suggest that FTO has a more wide-ranging role than previously suspected, with different sections of the gene being involved in various diseases.

"This is the first time to our knowledge that this major obesity gene, already linked to multiple illnesses, has been linked to melanoma," said study author, Dr Mark Iles, Cancer Research UK scientist at the University of Leeds.

"When scientists have tried to understand how the FTO gene behaves, so far they''ve only examined its role in metabolism and appetite. But it''s now clear we don''t know enough about what this intriguing gene does.

"This reveals a hot new lead for research into both obesity-related illnesses and skin cancer," he noted.

The researchers examined tumour samples in more than 13,000 melanoma patients and almost 60,000 unaffected people from around the world.

"These are fascinating early findings that, if confirmed in further research, could potentially provide new targets for the development of drugs to treat melanoma," said Dr Julie Sharp, Cancer Research UK''s senior science information manager.

The results published in Nature Genetics. (ANI)