Melanin found in skin cells affects skin pigmentation, more melanin equates to darker skin. In warmer climates, areas which receive more intense sunlight, an increased amount of melanin in the skin is advantageous for survival. The darker skin tones guard against sun damage which may lead to malignant skin tumors and death. People with lighter skin produce a defective form of a skin protein Mc1r (melaninocorton-1 receptor) which is necessary for the production of melanin.
The process known as tanning is attributed to an increase in number and size of melanin granules due to the stimulation of ultraviolet radiation.
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