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Not-so-sunny disposition: Tanning obsession is driven by genes


The study focused on people’s sun-seeking behaviour. (stock photo)

The study focused on people’s sun-seeking behaviour. (stock photo)

The study focused on people’s sun-seeking behaviour. (stock photo)

The desire to spend a lot of time basking in the sun's warming rays could be driven by genes, according to scientists.

Researchers have found that genes associated with addiction, as well as behavioural and personality traits, could also be linked to sun-seeking.

The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, is based on data from more than 260,000 people. Researchers say that, based on their findings, genetic predisposition to sun-seeking behaviour needs to be taken into account when developing skin cancer-awareness campaigns.

Senior author Dr Mario Falchi, from King's College London, said: "Our results suggest that tackling excessive sun exposure or use of tanning beds might be more challenging than expected, as it is influenced by genetic factors.

"It is important for the public to be aware of this predisposition as it could make people more mindful of their behaviour and the potential harms of excessive sun exposure."

The researchers looked at the health information of 2,500 twins from Twins UK.

It is the biggest UK adult registry of twins used to study the genetic and environmental cause of age-related complex traits and diseases.

They focused on sun-seeking behaviour and genetics and found that identical twins were more likely to have a similar behaviour than non-identical twins.

The team then analysed data from more than 260,000 participants of European ancestry from several genome-wide association studies - which are normally used to find genes involved in human disease.

The researchers identified five key genes involved in sun-seeking behaviour, some of which have been linked to traits associated with risk-taking and addiction, including smoking and alcohol consumption.

Dr Veronique Bataille, a consultant dermatologist who is one of the authors on the study, said: "It is clear that we see individuals who have very unhealthy sun behaviour and are aware of it.

"They will continue to expose themselves excessively, even if they have clear skin cancer risk factors.

"Our research shows that genes regulating addiction and other risky behaviour are important and may explain some of the reticence in changing behaviours in the sun."

Irish Independent