What’s up with those redheads?
By Caroline Polian
Photo By Roberto Lachner
How many redheads have you seen in your life? This rare hair color comes with many surprising facts, myths, and even a national day of celebration. Less than 2% of the world’s population boasts red hair. This hair color is the product of a genetic mutation and can occur in any ethnicity. A mutated MC1R gene on chromosome 16 is carried by both parents and can result in red hair if passed on to the child, even if the parents themselves don’t have this hair color. A person with blue eyes and red hair has the rarest combination of eye and hair color in the world because both are considered recessive traits. The majority of redheads will have brown, hazel, or green eyes. While other hair colors have to deal with grey hairs as they age, red hair will never turn grey. Instead, it will slowly turn white over time.
While other hair colors have to deal with grey hairs as they age, red hair will never turn grey. Instead, it will slowly turn white over time.
When it comes to pain, redheads can require up to 20% more anesthesia compared to patients with different hair colors. This is because they are more resistant to the effects of anesthesia, which means that more is needed. As they get older, redheads can face serious skin problems. They have a higher risk of developing a skin cancer known as Melanoma. In fact, 16% of the world’s melanoma cancer patients have red hair. Redheads can carry numerous mutations in the MC1R gene, which is what increases their chance of having skin cancer.
In ancient times, many odd myths were spread about redheads. For example, Greeks believed that redheads would turn into vampires after death. In places like Africa and Europe, all redheads were burned at the stake because they were considered witches. This caused people to have a fear of redheads, which is now known as Gingerphobia. Contrary to a popular belief, red hair will not go extinct, but may only become even rarer in the future.