Eye color may predict vitiligo risk

May 30, 2012

A person’s eye color may help to predict risk for vitiligo, according to results of a new study.

Denver - A person’s eye color may help to predict risk for vitiligo, according to results of a new study.

Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine studied nearly 3,000 non-Hispanic Americans of European descent. The results of the study suggest that people with blue eyes have the lowest risk for vitiligo, HealthDay News reports.

According to the study, about half of non-Hispanic Americans of European descent have blue or gray eyes, compared to less than 30 percent of vitiligo patients. More than 40 percent of the vitiligo patients in the study had brown or tan eyes, and 30 percent had green or hazel eyes.

The study results may also help other researchers learn more about eye color’s role in predicting melanoma, as people with brown eyes are at a lower risk for the disease, according to HealthDay News.

"Genetically, in some ways vitiligo and melanoma are polar opposites. Some of the same genetic variations that make one more likely to have vitiligo make one less likely to have melanoma, and vice versa," Richard Spritz, M.D., director of the Human Medical Genetics and Genomics Program at University of Colorado School of Medicine, said in a news release.

The study also identified 13 new genes that could possibly predispose people to the condition. The study was published online in Nature Genetics.

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