Finally. Sort of.

Well, what I’ve been telling you all for years is finally being given the weight it deserves by the Establishment: Redheads are special.

Don’t roll your eyes at me. Seriously, there are now documented studies by professionals…studies that *don’t* begin, “Remember that time that doctor/nurse/dentist told me….” Turns out, someone actually studied the unique physiology of redheads. (I’m may begin to throw big words around as if I actually know of what I speak. The truth is, I do not, but am instead regurgitating the information as I understand it. Forgive me my trespasses into medical jargon.)

According to a report in the latest issue of Time magazine:

[s]ociety’s red-haired members don’t always get a fair shake. Hoary stereotypes, such as the idea that redheads are also hot heads, are mixed together with actual physiological differences — such as a heightened sensitivity to pain. Now science is getting a better understanding of redheaded physiology than ever before.

I. am. loving. this. Oh sure, the study actually concludes that surgeons have nothing to fear with redheads — they found no correlation between bleeds and redheads, although the study does acknowledge a unique interatction/need for anesthesia — but it certainly validates for me the fact that for years and years and years I’ve been hearing comments from medical professionals about redheads and medicine. Comments such as:

“Oh geez, you’re a redhead. You’re going to bleed A LOT.” (from an L&D nurse with baby number 1. Comforting, thanks. And I heard that each time with the four babies.)

“Are you here for your shoulder? All my redheaded patients have shoulder issues.” (from an orthopedist. And no, although I do have a funky shoulder {and have for years}, I was there for a knee.)

“You’ve got incredible adhesions here; this is going to take a while. Must be that redheaded thing.” (from the OB *during* the c-section. And yes, it could be a reheaded thing, despite only anecdotal evidence about redheads and adhesions/keloid scarring, etc.)

“Well, I’d tell you that the recovery should only be about {this much time}, but you’re a redhead so it’s hard to say.” (That orthopedic surgeon again.)

“I wish I could tell you straight out that you can expect {this}, but you’re a redhead and as we know, that redhead factor throws a wrench into what’s ‘normal’.” (My nurse practitioner, when I was diagnosed with ParvoB19.)

“Yep, I’m going to load you up with novacaine.” (The dentist, when I inquired about whether he had read the study about redheads and dental pain. He had.)

Turns out that we, the redheaded, are a true minority (an estimated 1-2% of the population worldwide). However — and how crazy is this? —

[t]he carrot-top coloration is caused by a gene on chromosome 16 that affects the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) protein, which often leads to the redheads’ characteristic pale skin and light eyes, as well as a sensitivity to ultraviolet light — which is why they must slather on the sunscreen when they go outside. Because the gene is recessive, both parents must carry it in order for a red-haired child to be born. That’s not difficult — 80% of the global population carries the redheaded gene even most if they do so invisibly. (Thank you, Time.)

How come more of you aren’t producing redheads? Seems to me that you all are not coming through, genetically.

The study further references “the clinical behaviour of people with red hair.” Does anyone else think this makes us sound a bit nutty? What do they mean by clinical behavior? I haven’t had to be restrained (yet)….

There’s a lot of discussion of chromosome 16 that affects the melanocortin-1 receptor (MC1R) protein and what that means for hormones, brain receptors and opiates….but the bottom line is this:

None of you brunettes or blondes have warranted your own medical studies. So sure, we’ve got to wear sunglasses indoors and slather on the sunscreen in deepest, darkest December….But we remain medically interesting.

My redheaded self. Red and green at Christmas.

[Oh, and as an aside, Time put together a list of the Top 10 Redheads. Who makes this stuff up? I wasn’t contacted, so automatically the list is suspicious. More than that, though, the list is bizarre. Willie Nelson? Raggedy Ann & Andy? Huh?)

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5 Responses to “Finally. Sort of.”

  1. Missy @ Wonder, Friend Says:

    I, a fellow redhead, was not contacted for that Top 10 list, either. I question how thorough they could have been if neither of us got a call.

    Oddly, I’ve never had a doctor or nurse say anything about red hair and medical mysteries. At any rate, I second the statement that we ARE special, just maybe not for the reasons previously assumed by the medical establishment. :)
    Missy @ Wonder, Friend recently posted..I Can’t Remember…

  2. Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points Says:

    I am red-head-ish, but not at all as seriously red-head as my mother is.

    She is (was) a true red-head and I wonder if she knows all this.

    Explains a lot about her behavior, too. 😉
    Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points recently posted..Flashback

  3. Khara Says:

    Haha, I must send this to my sister! My sweet, youngest niece is a redhead :)
    Khara recently posted..Intentional Blog Pause

  4. liz Says:

    I have never heard anything beyond the “hothead” stereotype. And I think that factoid about both carrying the recessive gene is a gem. Need to remember that to tell my MIL who is obsessed with redheads.
    liz recently posted..Now She&8217s a Whole Hand

  5. Kathy Parker Says:

    I didn’t make the list, but was happy to see that Carrot Top wasn’t listed either. Lucille Ball & Willie Nelson – good red heads; Carrot Top – very creepy red head. I am now a faded & gray streaked red head considering first color touch -up.

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