The Research Group on the Evolution of the Cancer Genome of the Universitat Jaume I (UJI) of Castellón, has directed an international study on cancer of skin. Whose main conclusion is that age is the factor that explains most of the genetic mutations associated with the appearance and development of the different cancerous tumors that affect the skin.
The authors of the work have published an article about the research in the ‘Annals of Oncology’, the prestigious official journal of the European Society of Medical Oncology. As reported by the academic institution in a statement.
The team led by Professor Conrado Martínez-Cadenas has worked on this research together with Dr. Gerard Pitarch and Dr. Laura Mahiques, from the Dermatology Service of the General University Hospital of Castelló. In addition to the Cancer Institute of the University College of London (center of excellence for cancer in the United Kingdom) and the National Center for Genomic Analysis-Center for Genomic Regulation (CNAG-CRG) of Barcelona.
The study has taken into account factors such as age or sun exposure
According to Martínez-Cadenas, this research has started from the sequencing of 46 genes in normal skin biopsies from 123 healthy individuals. To compare all the mutations that appear and find out the causes. Where both age and phototype or sun exposure have been observed, among many other factors.
The samples were collected in 2019 and their analysis was carried out in 2020. According to the result, indicates the director of the research, “age explains 55.16% of the mutations.” While the skin phototype, if it is lighter or darker, with up to six degrees identified, is behind 17.92%.
According to the study’s conclusions, “aging is not only associated with an exponential increase in the number of accumulated somatic genetic mutations in the normal epidermis. But also with the selection and expansion of mutations associated with cancer.
Martínez-Cadenas emphasizes that, in other types of cancerous diseases, age was identified as an important factor, «but we initially thought that in the skin, due to being exposed to the sun, the phototype and the history of chronic exposure to the sun would have more weight in mutations, and it is not like that.
The rest of the factors have an irrelevant incidence together with the first two. The difference between mutations in areas chronically exposed to the sun and those that are only exposed intermittently is not even significant.
The development of skin cancer worsens after the age of 60
Furthermore, the incidence of age is not linear in time. Since, according to the study, the tendency to the appearance of mutations worsens after 60 years. The director of the research emphasizes that “from a certain age, whatever you have done, the mutations related to the predisposition to having cancer increase.”
“The explanation is that the DNA repair systems that humans have start to function much worse than in youth and early middle age. On the other hand, smokers also have more mutations of this type in different tissues, even if they have nothing to do with the lung, “he says.
To illustrate the importance of the research results, Martínez wants to recall that the specific causes of somatic mutations that lead to other types of cancer remain unknown in approximately 70% of cases.
Summer is an ideal time of year to sunbathe and improve our levels of vitamin D. However, it is advisable to limit sun exposure, since it could be harmful in different aspects and is considered the main factor for the development of cancer of the skin.