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Investigators find clues in large database of Kaiser Permanente membersBy Jan GreenePeople can look to the Northern European side of their genetic heritage for increased risk of nonmelanoma skin cancer, according to the first large analysis of genetic risk factors for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma in diverse populations with European ancestry.

They focused on the Genetic Epidemiology Research on Adult Health and Aging (GERA) cohort, a subgroup of more than 100,000 Kaiser Permanente Northern California members who volunteered their genetic and medical information for research.

“We knew that people of European ancestry with lighter skin have a higher risk of cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma,” said lead author Hélène Choquet, PhD, a staff scientist with the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research (DOR).

The analysis went on to consider genetically predicted skin pigmentation, genetic risk factors for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, and a clinical marker for chronic sun exposure (actinic keratoses).

For Latinos, the percentage of Northern European ancestry at one particular location in the genome (the SLC24A5 locus) was strongly correlated with cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma risk.

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