A new international study has revealed people with a certain genetic variant are up to 250 per cent more likely to develop melanoma.
Researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) were investigating the causes of melanoma when they found a variant in the MITF gene, which is responsible for regulating pigmentation and melanoma development.
Dr Stuart MacGregor of QIMR says the variant - which is as significant to melanoma risk as the trait of having red hair - is more common in people with a family history of melanoma and in those with a higher mole count or darker eye colour.
Discovered through a study examining the DNA of over 3, 900 Australian and UK residents with melanoma and over 4,000 people without the condition, Dr MacGregor says he hopes the findings will help inform people and encourage them to take the necessary precautions to avoid developing the deadly skin cancer.
The study is part of a collaboration with seven other universities and institutions including Harvard Medical School and the Melanoma Institute Australia.