Don’t call me ginger!

NATURAL-BORN redheads have a biology unlike any other. It’s the rarest hair colour in the world, and with it comes a unique set of health consequences.

Thanks to a single genetic mutation, and a few other mysterious causes, redheads have different pain tolerances, sexual encounters, and risks for disease than any other person with a different hair colour.

It was only in 2000 that scientists identified the gene responsible for red hair. We all have this gene, but, sometimes, the gene mutates, causing the characteristic reddish hue, along with pale skin and light eyes.

Because this gene was only discovered 15 years ago, researchers don’t know the exact amount of people with red hair, throughout the world. Current estimates put that number between 1-2% of the global population.

There are several health anomalies of redheads, including:

More sensitive to painkillers

The same gene mutation, that turns the hair red, also releases a hormone in the brain that has the ability to mimic endorphins. Endorphins have several functions, but one of their primary roles is to provide pain relief.

This ultimately affects how the body receives pain signals from the brain, causing a heightened sensitivity to prescription, opioid painkillers. As a result, redheads can take smaller doses of these drugs, to reach the same level of pain tolerance as others.

Temperature changes

The same mutation that makes people’s hair red is also what causes them to be more sensitive to temperature changes, even slight ones. They feel hot and cold temperature changes faster, and with greater intensity, than those with other hair colours. So, if you’re a brunette standing outside complaining about the cold, your redheaded best friend next to you is probably worse off.

More anaesthesia needed

Redheads need 20% more anesthesia than their dark-headed counterparts. Because the mutated gene belongs to the same family that plays a role in pain, the mutation causes redheads to be more sensitive to it. The changed gene’s role in the brain may affect the activity of endorphins, one of the body’s natural painkillers.

New research reveals that, as a reult of this, redheads are twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist as people with other hair colours. If they’re not given enough Novocaine, they’re in more pain.

Vitamin D

Northern European countries have the highest concentrations of redheads, and there’s a reason for that. When humans migrated out of Africa, tens of thousands of years ago, their skin lightened, over time, because they were exposed to less sun.

People with darker skin developed it to block some of the sun’s harmful UV rays, but, in the process, also lost the ability to naturally produce high levels of Vitamin D. On the other hand, people with red hair, who don’t get much sun, were able to adapt, and their bodies learned to efficiently generate the Vitamin D their bodies needed.

Risk for certain diseases

Unfortunately, redheads are nearly twice as likely to develop Parkinson’s disease when compared with those with darker hair. A 2009 study, published in the Annals of Neurology, looked at more than 130,000 people over 16 years, and found that those with red hair had a risk unlike those with dark hair. They’re still not entirely sure why.

Redheads are also at an increased risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. When a redhead’s skin is exposed to ultraviolet rays, pigment-producing cells grow quickly, eventually developing into cancer.

Going grey

Redheads’ hair initially turns to light copper, then blond, and finally white, completely skipping the grey-hair stage. They also tend to retain their pigment longer, and typically have thicker hair than other people. Red hair is the most difficult shade to dye and maintain, making it the hardest hair colour to fake.

More sex

When a redhead walks into a room, there’s a good chance they’ll be noticed, giving them, especially women, a competitive advantage in the mating game, according to research.

Colour psychologists say that red provokes arousal more than any other shade, and it’s an indicator of youth and fertility. So, it makes sense to align redheads with sex. People also tend to be attracted to things that are rare, which could also increase redheads’ allure!




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Posted by on Nov 2 2018. Filed under Health & Beauty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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