Red-haired subjects have increased risk of cutaneous malignant melanoma (CMM). A meta-analysis of 46 epidemiologic studies published before September 2002 reports that red-haired subjects were at higher risk of melanoma than dark-haired ones, the pooled relative risk being 3.64 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.56-5.37).1 Higher nevus count is another well-established risk factor for CMM, regardless of hair color; however, Dellavalle et al2 report that red-haired children had fewer nevi than children with other hair colors (mean count, 2.1 vs 6.1). Thus, the risk of CMM in red-haired subjects seems to be associated with some factor other than nevus count.
Naldi L, Randi G, Di Landro A, La Vecchia C, Oncology Study Group of the Italian Group for Epidemiologic Research in Dermatology (GISED). Red Hairs, Number of Nevi, and Risk of Cutaneous Malignant Melanoma: Results From a Case-Control Study in Italy. Arch Dermatol. 2006;142(7):927-947. doi:10.1001/archderm.142.7.935