20 Interesting Facts About Redheads You Never Knew Before

by Binupriya Tomy1 month ago0 comments

11 Redheads carry a gene variant that doubles their risk of getting Parkinson’s disease compared to people with other hair colors.

The MC1R gene that is responsible for the hair and fair skin also impacts the production of dopamine. The dopamine chemical signal is damaged or decreased in redheads. The same chemical is lost when you have Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a condition you experience when the levels of neurotransmitter dopamine are falling in your body. Studies thus say redheads have a greater possibility of getting Parkinson’s disease. (source)

12 Redheads have more chances of developing skin cancer.

Redheads are at higher risk of melanoma
Redheads are at higher risk of melanoma.

Redheads are at higher risk of melanoma, a type of skin cancer caused due to excessive UV exposure. Since redheads have the Mc1R-RHS gene mutation, they are more prone to this cancer variant. This particular mutation in the gene reduces the ability of the body to produce enough eumelanin for UV protection which leaves them at an increased risk. (source)

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13 Redheads aren’t always fair-skinned.

A natural redhead black girl
Image credits: Erik Jacobs/Flickr

Media representation makes us believe redheads are only for fair-skinned people, but there are native redheads born in places like Papua New Guinea and Morocco who have darker skin. The Polynesian redheads are called “ehu” in Hawaiian, which means “descendants of fire gods.” Stanford University geneticist Barry Starr mentioned that “Red hair carriers in the Caribbean and Africa are for the most part due to migration or gene flow.” Red hair varies in hue from a deep burgundy or bright copper, or auburn, to burnt orange or red-orange to strawberry blond. (1, 2)

14 Scientists have used birds to understand redheads.

Scientists have used birds to understand redheads
Scientists have used birds to understand redheads.

To study how redheads have a higher risk of skin cancer, scientists used birds. They used pheomelanin birds which have red pigmentation in their body for the research. The studies concluded that the pigmentation or the synthesis of pheomelanin that gives the color is also the reason behind the increased risk. The researchers have found the component to be carcinogenic by studying multiple birds for reference.

The exposure of such birds during the Chornobyl disaster has led to a severe decrease in the population. This says a lot about exposure to radiation and increases the scope for deeper study. The red pigment pheomelanin increase in the body, leading to poor protection from radiation. (1, 2)

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15 Red-haired people are called “Redheads” instead of their original hair color which is orange, because the word “orange” was not coined until the 1500s.

The word “orange” was not used in the English language until the 1500s, and this is the major reason why redheads got their name “redheads.” Before the term orange was coined, English did not differentiate between orange and red as different colors. The term “redhead” has been in use since the mid-1200s. Many Bible characters and Gods in different cultures around the world are reputed to have been redheads. (1, 2)

16 Archaeologists have found evidence that redheads were around since the Neanderthal Age.

Neanderthal
Neanderthal

Researchers have found that ancient DNA from bones of Neanderthals shows they had pale skin and red hair. They confirmed at least 1% of them were likely redheads. The bones were 43,000 years old from Spain, and the other one was 50,000 years old from Italy. (source)

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17 Redheads will never go extinct.

There is a common misconception that redheads can go extinct as there are very few of them. Even though redheads are a small percent of the population, their gene variant will last forever as there are many people who carry the recessive redhead gene. Also, 2% of the world population is not a small number. (source)

18 “Gingerphobia” refers to the fear or dislike of people with red hair. Redheads face severe discrimination in society.

People with red hair are different from most of the crowd. Even though it is a great conversation starter or ice breaker, discrimination against redheads is very common. In old texts, redheads were compared to witches and vampires. Even today they face severe discrimination and bullying for the color of their hair. These stereotypes, prejudice, and maltreatment they face on a regular basis are called “gingerism.” (1, 2)

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19 May 26th every year is celebrated as “World Redhead Day.”

World Redhead Day
Image credits: Eddy Van 3000/Flickr

To empower redheads to love their hair despite all the societal discrimination, the first national redhead day was celebrated after two sisters came across “kick a ginger day.” They decided that redheads need to have a celebratory day to love themselves and rid themselves of the bullying and discrimination that comes out of being an odd duck in a large group since only 1% to 2% of the world population are redheads. (source)

20 A Redhead Convention is organized every year in Ireland. Similar celebrations take place all around the world.

The Redhead Convention takes place in southern Ireland for three days every year, where all the redheads come together for competitions. They are charity partners of the Irish Cancer Society. Other parts of the world also hold redhead gatherings like the one in the Netherlands, where every fall, thousands of redheads come together for Roodharigendag, the Redhead Days International Festival, which is a weekend-long festival. (1, 2)

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