The fat found in fast food can help protect against the deadliest form of skin cancer, a study claims.
Experts found that palmitic acid, which is in products such as burgers and cookies, fuels a protein involved in the pigmentation process to help protect against harmful skin cancer mutations.
While fast food can have harmful effects on the heart and brain, it could prevent melanoma, a deadly skin cancer.
Rates of people being diagnosed with melanoma have increased the past 30 years in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates close to 10,000 people will die from the cancer this year.
Experts said this breakthrough in research could lead to a drug for those who are red hair, fair skinned or have consistently tanned, all of whom are more at risk to get skin cancer.
Researchers from Boston University in Massachusetts discovered palmitic acid, a fat found in fast food, controls the activity of the MC1R gene.
This gene, also known as the ‘ginger gene’, affects the type of melanin pigment it produces for the skin.
What is melanoma and how can you prevent it?
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It happens after the DNA in skin cells is damaged (typically due to harmful UV rays) and then not repaired so it triggers mutations that can form malignant tumors.
- Sun exposure: UV and UVB rays from the sun and tanning beds are harmful to the skin.
- Moles: The more moles you have, the greater the risk for getting melanoma.
- Skin type: Fairer skin has a higher risk for getting melanoma.
- Hair color: Red heads are more at risk than others.
- Personal history: If you’ve had melanoma once then you are more likely to get it again.
- Family history: If previous relatives have gotten it then that increases your risk.
Removal of the melanoma:
This can be done by removing the entire section of the tumor or by the surgeon removing the skin layer by layer. When a surgeon removes it layer by layer, this helps them figure out exactly where the cancer stops so they don’t have to remove more than is necessary.
The patient can decide to use a skin graft if the surgery has left behind discoloration or an indent.
Immunotherapy, radiation treatment or chemotherapy:
This is needed if the cancer reaches stage III or IV. That means that the cancerous cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body.
- Use sunscreen and do not burn
- Avoid tanning outside and in beds
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside
- Keep newborns out of the sun
- Examine your skin every month
- See your physician every year for a skin exam
Source: Skin Cancer Foundation
These variants give redheads their signature hair color, freckles, pale skin and a strong tendency to burn in the sun.
Exposure to ultraviolet light, either from the sun or from sunbeds, can damage DNA and cause mutations that can lead to skin cancer.
Mice in the study with the gene mutations were given palmitic acid.