Redheads are genetically blessed, says science

It’s a fair enough assessment to say that redheads aren’t exactly revered in all parts of society. Lovable, certainly. Exotic, perhaps. But held up as a genetic sensation? That’s not really been on the zeitgeist’s agenda (see: the indefatigable meme community, prone to lampooning redheads as soulless). Until now…

Redheads are genetically blessed, says science

In her book, The Big Redhead Book: Inside the Secret Society of Red Hair, author Erin La Rosa compiles research from various outlets proving that the hitherto-culturally neglected redhead is actually replete with special genetic qualities. McGill University, in a 2003 study, finds that redhead women have a higher pain threshold than their dreary-haired peers, owing to MC1R, the gene associated with red hair and fair skin. Not only that, but MC1R makes its carriers more receptive to temperature, meaning they’re able to identify and respond to changes quicker, according to a 2005 study by the University of Louisville. Efficient, prescient, and it makes for an excellent new resource pool of anchormen.

And it turns out this latent superiority has actually been paying off in a visible way, research shows, with a 2014 report by Upstream Analysis suggesting that 30% of TV adverts in the US feature a redhead in a leading role. CBS similarly posited that a person with red hair appears every 106 seconds on screen in the US. From Mad Men’s iconic Joan Holloway, to Riverdale’s dashing Archie Andrews, to the near-ubiquitous Ed Sheeran, it’s not hard to see why.

What’s more, despite accounting for a mere 2% of the population, evolution has been kind to the humble readhead, with the news that flame-haired people have developed an ameliorated capacity to produce vitamin D – owing to centuries of leaden European skies – meaning they’re less inclined to become sun worshippers. Although come to think of it, leaving the sunbathing to the non-alabaster multitude is probably a prudent decision, given redheads’ infamous propensity for sunburn. Being able to produce more vitamin D in a shorter amount of time better equips redheads to fend off diseases such as diabetes, rickets, and arthritis.

With this level of pre-ordained buoyancy, it’s likely you’ll be, ahem, seeing red for a long time to come.

Header image: UK in Italy, used under Creative Commons

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