Doctors don't need to fear red heads

Dec 10, 2010

A study in the British Medical Journal's Christmas issue today confirms that there is no need for doctors to fear red heads.

The research concludes that, contrary to popular belief, people with red hair do not bleed any more than other patients.

The authors, led by surgeon Jonathan Barry from Morriston Hospital in Swansea, say that "red haired patients are traditionally regarded with a degree of trepidation by surgeons and anaesthetists alike due to a reputation for excessive bleeding, reduced and a propensity to develop hernias".

Globally around 1-2% of the general population have red hair, this rises to 2-6% in the Northern hemisphere and is highest in Scotland where as many as 13% are red heads with at least 40% carrying the recessive red hair gene.

Barry and colleagues say that there have been anecdotal reports about the clinical behaviour of red heads with claims of increased bleeding.

However, in their review of existing scientific literature on this issue, they found no robust evidence to support these anecdotes.

Some small studies found that when undergoing surgery people with red hair needed more anaesthetic than other patients. And another study indicated that red heads were more sensitive to cold and heat pain than the control group.

In conclusion, the authors say that red heads have no greater risk during surgery than the rest of the population.

Explore further: Ultrasound enhancement provides clarity to damaged tendons, ligaments

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Red kiwi poised to make a healthy debut

Nov 09, 2005

First there was green, then yellow and now red-fleshed kiwifruit. A team of researchers in Italy and New Zealand has found that a newly developed variety of red-fleshed kiwifruit contain anthocyanins, bright red pigments ...

Recommended for you

A better way to track emerging cell therapies using MRIs

Sep 19, 2014

Cellular therapeutics – using intact cells to treat and cure disease – is a hugely promising new approach in medicine but it is hindered by the inability of doctors and scientists to effectively track the movements, destination ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

ironjustice
5 / 5 (1) Dec 10, 2010
Actually it HAS been shown they ARE more prone to 'problems' DUE TO the fact the red hair is related to increased iron in the body. Increased iron in the body leads to a need for MORE morphine to kill pain. This is evidenced again in the Asians who need more morphine AND have the highest levels of iron than anyone.
"Asians, Pacific Islanders Have Highest Blood Iron Levels"
"There were statistically significant ethnic group
differences in pain scores (P = 1.7 x 10(-7)) and
morphine usage (P = 2.8 x 10(-15)) between ethnic
groups, with Indians having the highest mean pain
score and using the highest amount of morphine."
ironjustice
not rated yet Dec 10, 2010
"Synopsis - The iron ppigments extracted with boiling acids from human red hair and chicken feathers are closely related and are possibly identical. Evidence is presented that these unique substances are well-defined chemical entitieis and not artifacts of keratin hydrolysis. The iron pigment is probably the major pigment of human red hair. Its limited extractability from red hair is due to its destruction during extraction and not to the small amount present in the hair. In all of its forms the iron pigment has been proved to be a metallo-protein. It can be broken down to a compound with a relatively small molecular size which retains all the essential properties of the originally extracted pigment. Synthesis of an iron-protein in melanocytes raises many questoins which cannot be answered at present."