A study has suggested that women in the United Arab Emirates are almost two-thirds (63 per cent) more likely to develop acute myeloid leukaemia than female expatriates living in the Gulf state.
The research by UAE University found that the rate of this type of leukaemia among UAE nationals is 78 per cent higher than in expatriates, and synthetic henna dye could be behind it.
University associate professor Dr Inaam Hassan told The National that chemicals in henna, which is used to decorate the body, along with a lack of sunlight, could be causing the cancer.
"I could not understand the results because men and women live in the same environment; they eat the same foods and breathe the same air," she told the paper.
"The only difference was the use of henna."
Age, smoking, exposure to radiation and genetic predisposition are also risk factors linked to leukaemia.
The study, published in journal Leukaemia and Lymphoma, found the rate of acute myeloid leukaemia was 93 per cent higher in Emirati women than in men.
However, the disease is rare, affecting fewer than three in 100,000 women living in UAE, The National reported.
Expatriate healthcare insurance could help cover the costs of expensive medical treatment in the Gulf region.
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