In a recent study, scientists have found that people with red hair do not bleed any more than other patients, as it was popularly believed.
The authors, led by surgeon Jonathan Barry from Morriston Hospital in Swansea, said, "red haired patients are traditionally regarded with a degree of trepidation by surgeons and anesthetists alike due to a reputation for excessive bleeding, reduced pain threshold and a propensity to develop hernias".
Globally around 1-2percent of the general population have red hair, this rises to 2-6 percent in the Northern hemisphere and is highest in Scotland where as many as 13percent are red heads with at least 40 percent 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, 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.
The study appeared in the BMJ's Christmas issue published on bmj.com today.