Two genes linked to common skin cancer

by Amanda B

Scientists at Iceland’s Decode Genetics have found two new genetic variations that may increase the risk of basal cell carcinoma, the most common form of Skin Cancer for people of European descent.  The study showed the variations have nothing to do with skin color, but darker skin is known to play an important role in the protection against Skin Cancer.     People with the two variations are found to be three times more likely to have basal cell carcinoma and twelve times more likely to have it if they have more than three variations.  The disease is largely caused by exposure to ultraviolent rays of the sun and is easy to treat when detected early on.  Unfortunately, the cancer can fight against treatment causing skin damage as well as bone and cartilage damage.         More than 30,000 Europeans’ genes were analyzed to figure out what the impact of the genetic variation on chromosome one is.  They found out it wasn’t related to either fair skin or pigmentation, and Karl Stefansson, chief executive of Decode’s, said that “Exposure to the sun has no direct impact on the genes, which add to the total risk of basal cell carcinoma,”   In my opinion, this research sounds pretty confusing.  It makes sense that people with a lot of variations in their genes have a higher chance of getting basal cell carcinoma.  What confused me was that the study said exposure to sun had no direct impact on the genes, so I don’t understand how it can relate to people with basal cell carcinoma since the disease is mostly caused by exposure to sun.  It makes me wonder though if the genetic variations relate to other forms of cancer as well.  I believe there can be many different reasons for the cause and formation of basal cell carcinoma, and Iceland’s Decode Genetics should research other causes for the disease.


Two More Genes Linked to Common Skin Cancer.Yahoo! News. 12 Oct 2008. 14 Oct 2008.

Hooked on A Feeling – The Science of Touch

Science & The City

Science & the City delivers a new podcast every Friday featuring interviews, conversations, and lectures by noted scientists and authors.

Neuropsychologist Randulfo Romo and filmaker Kun Chang team up in this recent podcast to talk about somatosensory research, propioception and synesthesia.

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The Tongue Is The Start Of The Route To Obesity

A recent study from Penn State suggests there could be a link between taste and body weight.  The authors have observed that when taste sensation of sweets is numbed in rats, the rats consume larger and ever-sweeter meals.  These researchers may very well be at the right place to conduct this study as it was at the Hershey, Pennsylvania campus.


Related Web Sites

Thanksgiving Calorie Count

The calories in a big Thanksgiving meal can be staggering. According to USDA’s nutrient data laboratory, the 350 calories you’ll get from six ounces of light and dark turkey meat are just trickles in a caloric waterfall. Add to that one cup each of stuffing (200 calories), giblet gravy (300 calories), mashed potatoes (350 calories), candied sweet potatoes (400 calories), egg nog (400 calories) and cranberry sauce (400 calories); with two buttered rolls (300 calories) and two glasses of wine or apple cider (300 calories); and finished off with one slice of pumpkin pie with ice cream (450 calories) and one slice of pecan pie (600 calories); and you’re potentially doubling the USDA’s recommended daily caloric intake at one sitting.


Related Web Sites
  • Calorie Tracker from LIVESTRONG– this iPod Touch / iPhone application lets you look up or track your daily caloric, fat, carbohydrate and protein intake with the click of a button. You will have access to The Daily Plate at LIVESTRONG.COM, which offers a comprehensive nutrition database of more than 450,000 food and restaurant items. Most major competitors only have 7,000 items in their database.
  • WebMD Calorie Counter – Find out how many calories you will expend doing any of 30+ popular physical activities, from aerobics to gardening.
  • Medicine Net Thanksgiving Calorie Menus
  • Class Calorie Tracker– Our class data from Google Docs.  See the results here.


You’ve Got Mail! (and a STD)

by Maggy P

According to an article on, people are finding new ways to tell their ex-partners that they have a STD– through e-mail. A new website called is now offering a service (e-mails, e-postcards) to notify a former partner that they may be infected with something. The sender can choose which STD they want to notify the receiver of, and if they want to include their name or stay anonymous. Since 2004, 30,000 people have used the site to send notifications to partners.
Although this does seem like an easy way to notify someone to get tested – which is ultimately the purpose of the e-card- I’m not sure if I would want to hear from a sexual partner this way. One of the things that psychologists talked about in the article was the damage that recieving an e-mail with that kind of information could do to a person. In fact, many people who commented on the story wrote that they would rather hear it from the person they were with face-to-face. Even though I think that would definitely be the best way to tell someone that they may be infected, I think that it’s definitely better to get an e-mail that get a surprise the next time you go to the doctor, or spread it to someone else unknowingly. One thing is definite, though – I wouldn’t want that e-card to end up in my spam box!