Health: Ginger Gene Traced Back 50,000 Years to Africa

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New research has revealed that the mutated protein MC1R that causes redheads to have their ginge tinge is the result of humans fleeing Africa more than 50,000 years ago.

A recent study conducted by Spanish scientists found that the ‘V6OL allele’ ginger gene happened as the first settlers of Europe adapted to the lack of sunlight in their new habitat, thus eventually causing the development of red hair and pale skin.

These results follow the recent discovery made by BritainsDNA that approximately 20 million people in the UK carry the ginger gene that causes red hair.

The research found that the region with the highest density of redhead gene carriers is south east Scotland with 40%, while Wales and parts of Ireland come in close behind with 38% apiece. The lowest density belongs to eastern England with 21%.

BritainsDNA Ginger Gene Map

Only when two of these gene carriers reproduce can this potentially lead to a wee ginger bairn, but even then it’s not certain, as there’s 25% chance of a red-haired kid.

As we know, the paleness of natural gingers means that bodies are able to produce Vitamin D when exposed to lower levels of sunlight.

This does also mean, of course, that redheads are highly sensitive to UV rays, and are much more likely to develop melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Study author Dr Saioa Lopez said: “As a consequence of depigmentation there has been collateral damage to health.

“This can be reconciled if we assume that melanoma is typically a post-reproductive disease, and consequently should have little effect on the individual’s genetic contribution to the next generation.”

In other words, you’re OK if you keep wearing sun cream, kids!

 

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