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Approved research

Association of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers with the interaction between lifestyle and genetic factors

Principal Investigator: Dr Hong Liu
Approved Research ID: 55257
Approval date: June 12th 2020

Lay summary

We aim to investigate the impact of lifestyle, genetic factors and their interaction with the incidence of skin cancers. Previous literature has suggested that physical activity is protective against various cancer types in both smokers and non-smokers. However, systemic exploration of how the beneficial influence of physical activity might be attenuated or strengthened by genetic background is limited. With the large sample size of UK Biobank, we will have sufficient power to characterize this potential interaction. In addition, blood biochemistry markers have been a proxy for organ function and widely used in the clinic. We would like to investigate whether these markers can be used to inform the interaction between lifestyle factors and genetic composition.

Scope extension:

Previous studies suggested that leisure-time physical activity was associated with lower risks of many cancer types regardless of body size or smoking history. However, systematic investigation of the impact of lifestyle and genetic factors and their interactions on the incidence of skin cancers is limited. We aim to investigate the association of lifestyle and genetic factors and their interaction with the incidence of skin cancers as well as the hypothesis that lifestyle and genetic factors can alter the risk of skin cancers via biochemical indicators as mediators or intermediate predictors. The UK Biobank is a well-powered collection of samples with the opportunity to provide new insights into how lifestyle and genetic factors may be related to future skin cancer risk.

Similarly, studies showed that the occurrence of skin diseases is an outcome of gene and environment. While gene is inherited and can hardly be modified, environment and behaviours are acquired and can be changed. For instance, smoking is associated with an increased risks of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, while quitting smoking may help prevent these inflammatory skin diseases. However, we can observe that some people who had poor environment or behaviour did not develop a disease, while some people who adhered to a healthy lifestyle developed a disease. To explain this, a systematic method that incorporates both gene and environment and their interplay is necessary. The current proposed study also aims to understand how behaviour and environment affect skin diseases such as psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and rosacea in people with different genetic profiles.