Wednesday, June 25, 2014

#177 / Red

National Geographic has advised its readers that most redheads "experience pain differently than the rest of us." That's what an article from the June 2014 edition contended. 

According to National Geographic, red hair "is caused by a mutation in the skin’s melanocortin-1 receptor gene." This gene, apparently, may "inadvertently activate" the receptors in the brain that process anxiety and pain. "Anecdotal evidence [has] long held that redheads were harder to anesthetize. The consortium tested this theory and found that redheads required 19 percent more gas for general anesthesia. They’re also more sensitive to thermal pain and more resistant to local anesthesia."

Redheads, in other words, according to National Geographic, are more "sensitive" than the non-redheaded league, and are simply more susceptible to pain than non-redheads. The National Geographic article was drawn to my attention by my wife who just happens to be (you guessed it) a redhead. 

Other sources on the Internet appear to claim virtually the opposite. The Gizmodo Website agrees with National Geographic that "Redheads Feel Pain Differently Than the Rest of Us." It is the Gizmodo claim, though, that redheads "have a higher pain threshold than most of us, and can handle spicier food, too."

Who to believe? I am smart enough to believe my wife, no matter what Gizmodo says. I think that's only prudent. Besides, if I am looking for proof, my wife can't stand spicy food!

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  1. Speaking as a former redhead, I'm with Gizmodo. For several years I refused anesthetic in the dentist's chair, and used to drop Jalapenos like gum drops. Now the red hair is gone and I too, cannot bear picante foods.

  2. Genetic variations associated with red hair color and fear of dental pain, anxiety regarding dental care and avoidance of dental care

  3. That's a helpful reference. And thanks! Looks like this study is validating my wife's observations.

  4. I also read that NG article. I'll add my anecdotal story. I was born with red hair, which quickly changed to toe-head blonde, lasting through high school, then moving to light auburn in my 20s. Currently, at 69, I am light auburn with grey finally making an appearance at this late age. Two of my grandchildren have really red hair. I have always had a pretty high tolerance to pain and low tolerance of anesthesia - likely to vomit when coming to. I don't particularly like spicy food but do enjoy jalapenos on nachos. Not sure of the relevance of any of this but who knows -- we may be accumulating data on Two Worlds :o)

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