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Redheads 54 Percent Less Likely to Develop Prostate Cancer

Update Date: Aug 12, 2013 07:50 AM EDT

Being ginger might actually have some benefits.

New research reveals that redheaded men are 54 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those with black, blond or brown hair.

Scientists explain genes that control hair pigmentation may also influence the development of some tumors.

However, previous studies suggest that having red hair could also affect health in other ways.

Past research found that people with red hair are more at risk of developing skin cancer because redheads generally have lighter skin.  Another study revealed that redheads also feel pain and the cold more than everybody else.  Researchers said this could be because their pain threshold might be partly controlled by the MC1R gene, the same gene that determines their hair color.

Researchers in the latest study published in the British Journal of Cancer wanted to see if the same genetic factors that determine hair color also affect a man's chances of developing prostate cancer.

The study involved data from 20,000 men between the 50 and 69 who participated in a long-term health study in the late 1980s. Researchers said that 1,982 men in the study had developed prostate cancer.

Researchers noted that only 1 percent of the men in the study had red hair, compared to more than 40 percent with light brown hair.

Researchers believe that the MC1R gene may also help control the way some cells divide and develop.

"This research does indicate an association between having naturally red hair and a reduced risk of developing prostate cancer," said Dr. Iain Frame, director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, according to the Daily Mail.
"But the strength and exact nature of this association is still unclear," he added. Frame stressed that the latest findings should not hold back redheaded men from seeking advice about prostate cancer. 

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