Looking for Sunshine: Genetic Predisposition to Sun Seeking in 265,000 Individuals of European Ancestry

J Invest Dermatol. 2021 Apr;141(4):779-786. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2020.08.014. Epub 2020 Sep 10.


Despite growing public awareness of the adverse consequences of excessive sun exposure, modifying sun-seeking behavior is challenging because it appears to be driven by addictive mechanisms. This can have effects on health because sun exposure, although beneficial, when prolonged and repeated shows a causal relationship with skin cancer risk. Using data from 2,500 United Kingdom twins, we observed sun seeking to be significantly heritable (h2 ≥ 58%). In a GWAS meta-analysis of sun-seeking behavior in 261,915 subjects of European ancestry, we identified five GWAS-significant loci previously associated with addiction, behavioral and personality traits, cognitive function, and educational attainment and enriched for CNS gene expression: MIR2113 (P = 2.08 × 10-11), FAM76B/MTMR2/CEP57 (P = 3.70 × 10-9), CADM2 (P = 9.36 × 10-9), TMEM182 (P = 1.64 × 10-8), and PLCL1/LINC01923/SATB2 (P = 3.93 × 10-8). These findings imply that the behavior concerning UV exposure is complicated by a genetic predisposition shared with neuropsychological traits. This should be taken into consideration when designing awareness campaigns and may help improve people's attitudes toward sun exposure.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive / epidemiology
  • Behavior, Addictive / genetics*
  • Diseases in Twins / epidemiology
  • Diseases in Twins / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Social Class
  • Sunbathing / psychology*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology
  • White People / genetics