A GENE linked to obesity and over-eating may also increase the risk of the most deadly form of skin cancer, research has shown.
People with a particular DNA modification within the FTO gene may be more likely to develop malignant melanoma.
Previous research has shown that variations in a different part of the gene are a major risk factor for obesity.
Until now there has been no evidence that obesity and melanoma are linked.
The new findings, published in the journal Nature Genetics, suggest that FTO has more wide-ranging functions than previously thought.
Lead scientist Dr Mark Iles, from the University of Leeds, said: “This is the first time, to our knowledge, that this major obesity gene, already linked to multiple illnesses, has been linked to melanoma.
“This raises the question whether future research will reveal that the gene has a role in even more diseases.”
The researchers analysed the DNA of more than 13,000 melanoma patients and almost 60,000 people without the disease from around the world.