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Redhead extiction?

Posted by mda22 on March 11, 2011

Most of us have heard about redheads going extinct in the near future.  Actually,  a recent report in the national geographic states that it could be as soon as 2060 that we see the last ginger. However, several sources claim this misconception is extremely false. In order to understand why, you must first understand what causes someone to be a redhead. Red hair is caused by a rare mutation in the MC1R protein which is a protein in charge of hair color and skin pigmentation. I guess this means gingers really are mutants…. 

Red hair is caused by a mutation in the MC1R gene. The gene is also a recessive trait, if both parents are redheads they pass on this MC1R gene to their offspring. In some cases, the red hair can skip a generation or two and resurface again, whatever hair color the parents in the middle have.

In addition to having red hair, pale kin, and in most cases looking nothing like your parents there are also some studies that show that they’re are medical implications that come along with the MC1R gene as well. National Geographic says the gene at first had the beneficial effect of increasing the body’s ability to make vitamin D from sunlight. Making them more prone to skin related cancers and diseases.  Also it has been proven that natural redheads are more sensitive to thermal pain, and less to other types of pain such as electrically induced pain. A follow up study to this one found that in general redheads require quite a bit more anesthetic than people of other hair colors. Just in case this wasn’t enough for you, here are some other facts about gingers:

  • Red hair is seen on the heads of only four percent of people. Most of these exist in the U.K., the Republic of Ireland, and Australia.
  • The highest percentage of natural redheads in the world is in Scotland (13%), followed closely by Ireland with 10%. In the US, about 2% of the population are natural redheads.
  • There is a belief that redheads are prone to industrial deafness. This actually could be true as the melanocytes are found in the middle ear.
  • Redheads don’t turn grey. Red hair turned sandy, then white. They are also found to loose their color later in life than people carrying other hair colors.
  • The perception of the color red, scientifically speaking, enhances the viewers metabolism and increases heart rate and respiration.
  • The first human redheads walked this earth about 50,000 years ago in Africa and then spread throughout Northern Europe.
  • The color Green tempers red. Look at a color chart. This is why redheads are taught as children to wear lots of green. As if red hair is a shameful state of being.

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