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Do Redheads Feel More Pain?

September 05, 2009 | 26,128 views
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redhead, red hairA new study measured the anxiety that redheads feel about the dentist and concluded that they are not only nervous, but are more than twice as likely to avoid a visit altogether compared with their brunette and blonde counterparts.

Previous studies have found that people with red hair are typically more sensitive to pain and more resistant to anesthesia --- and require about 20 percent more of it to be effective.

Red hair is usually caused by a mutation in a gene called MC1R, which produces the substance that gives hair, skin and eyes their color. Some studies have indicated that this mutation may also affect the way pain is felt.

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From April 19th through April 25th we launch GMO Awareness Week. We set aside an entire week dedicated to providing you with information on GMOs and labeling initiatives.

GMOs are a product of genetic engineering, meaning their genetic makeup has been altered to induce a variety of “unique” traits to crops, such as making them drought-resistant or giving them “more nutrients.” GMO proponents claim that genetic engineering is “safe and beneficial,” and that it advances the agricultural industry. They also say that GMOs help ensure the global food supply and sustainability. But is there any truth to these claims? I believe not. For years, I've stated the belief that GMOs pose one of the greatest threats to life on the planet. Genetic engineering is NOT the safe and beneficial technology that it is touted to be.

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Public opinion around the biotech industry's contamination of our food supply and destruction of our environment has reached the tipping point. We're fighting back. That's why I was the first to push for GMO labeling. I donated a significant sum to the first ballot initiative in California in 2012, which inspired others to donate to the campaign as well. We technically "lost the vote, but we are winning the war, as these labeling initiatives have raised a considerable amount of public awareness.

The insanity has gone far enough, which is why I encourage you to boycott every single product owned by members of the GMA, including natural and organic brands. More than 80 percent of our support comes from individual consumers like you, who understand that real change comes from the grassroots.

Thankfully, we have organizations like the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) to fight back against these junk food manufacturers, pesticide producers, and corporate giants.

Internet Resources Where You Can Learn More

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Dr. Mercola's Comments:

Only about 1 percent to 2 percent of the world's population has red hair, which is caused by a mutation in MC1R, a protein involved in regulating skin and hair color.

The color of your hair is determined by a protein called melanin. There are two kinds of melanin: eumelanin colors your hair brown to black, and pheomelanin turns it yellow-blond to red. The levels of each of these two kinds of melanin will determine the color and shade of your hair.

Red hair is also associated with fair skin, freckles and sensitivity to ultraviolet light, and occurs more frequently in northern and western Europeans and their descendants.

You've likely heard one of the most common stereotypes given to redheads, which is a tendency to have a "fiery" personality. While this has no basis in science that I know of, there are some studies that show redheads may, in fact, have a different tolerance to pain than the rest of us.

Although how that tolerance differs is still being debated.

Do Redheads Have More or Less Tolerance to Pain?

The latest study on pain and red hair, published by the Journal of the American Dental Association, found that redheads are more than twice as likely to avoid going to the dentist than people with blonde or brunette locks. The researchers suggested this increased anxiety was due to redheads' increased sensitivity to pain.

Other studies, too, have found such a link, including research by Edwin Liem, who conducted the research at the Outcomes Research Institute of the University of Louisville, US.

Liem found that people with red hair are so sensitive to pain they require 20 percent more anesthetic to dull pain. He said in New Scientist:

"Red hair is the first visible human trait, or phenotype, that is linked to anaesthetic requirement."

Liem reasoned that a dysfunctional melanocortin 1 receptor, found in redheads, stimulates a brain receptor related to pain sensitivity.

The issue is not black and white, however, as other studies have found quite the opposite.

Research by Canadian researcher Jeffery Mogil found that those with red hair actually have a higher tolerance for pain … and need less anesthesia during surgery. Ian Jackson, head of medical and developmental genetics at the Medical Research Council in Edinburgh, meanwhile, has conducted studies on mice showing that male redheads have a similar pain tolerance to non-redheads.

Please Share Your Opinions!

It could very well be that pain tolerance differs from person to person among redheads, just as it does among people with any hair color. But it is always interesting to hear your personal experiences.

If you or someone in your family has red hair, please share your experiences in the Community Comments section below.

Do you find you are more or less sensitive to pain than others, or have you required extra anesthetic during dental visits?

If you aren't already registered, it will literally only take a moment to register so you can post your words of wisdom.

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