4 Health Risks of Being a Redhead

(Rachael Rettner, Live Science) Redheads have more in common than their hair color.

Redheads appear to be more sensitive to pain and may have increased risk for Parkinson’s disease. Photos: Glenn Francis, CC; Chatham House, CC

Certain health conditions appear to be more common among people with red hair.

1. More sensitive to pain

Image: Dylan, CC

Redheads appear to be more sensitive to pain, and less sensitive to the kinds of local anesthesia used as the dentists.

A study found that redheads require significantly more anesthetic in order to block pain from an unpleasant electric stimulation.

Another study found that redheads are more sensitive to sensations of cold and hot, and that the dental anesthetic lidocaine is less effective for redheads.

Because of these reasons, redheads may avoid the dentist. A study found that redheads were more anxious about dental visits, had more fear that they would experience pain during a visit, and were more than twice as likely to avoid dental care. 

2. Increased Parkinson’s risk

A study found that those with lighter hair colors were at increased risk for Parkinson’s disease compared to those with black hair.

Redheads had the highest risk — they were nearly twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s, compared to people with black hair.

3. Skin cancer risk

Image: Eddy Van 3000, CC

Redheads often have fair skin, a trait known to increase skin cancer risk. In addition, the particular genetic mutation that leads to red hair may further boost the risk of skin cancer, recent research suggests.

A new study finds that mutations in the MC1R gene — which cause red hair, fair skin and poor tanning ability — also set up skin cells for an increased risk of cancer upon exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation.

4. Endometriosis risk

Some women with red hair may be at increased risk for endometriosis, a condition in which tissue from the uterus grows outside the uterus, often resulting in pain.

Read more at Live Science.

Also of interest: ‘My Hairdresser Saved My Life’