Are redheads at higher risk of disease?

In terms of growing old gracefully, I’ve always felt proud of being a redhead. Forget grey hairs, we’ve got silver locks to look forward to.

I like to think of ourselves of silver foxes, like Cilla Black or Betty White. I mean, no one is cooler than those two.

Redheads at higher risk of disease?

But it’s now being said that your hair colour is a window into the future of your health, and those reports don’t reflect so greatly on us gingers, I’m afraid.

The scientists in question have tested on wild boars, so no, it’s not exactly a fool-proof theory. But let me tell you what the study revealed.

The Spanish scientists found that wild boars with grey hair had a long and healthy life, but those with reddish coats had more cell damage, due to the red pigments and melanins in their skin.

Redheads have less darker pigments, or eumelanins, and contain plenty more pheomelanins, which are responsible for producing bright red and chestnut shades.

Pheomelanin requires an antioxidant chemical called glutathione, or GSH, to produce the reddish colour. GSH is a critter that causes cellular damage, which I’m sure you can tell by now is not a good thing.

The scientists’ study turned next to working out whether this cell damage puts these redheaded boars at higher vulnerability of further damage and risk of cancers.

Turns out it does. Darn.

One of the scientists working on the study, Galván, said: “We found that boars showing hair graying were actually those in prime condition and with the lowest levels of oxidative damage. Far from being a sign of age-related decline, hair graying seems to indicate good condition in wild boars.”

Now, before you all panic and go out and splurge your money on cell-protecting serums and ointments (I don’t know what I’m talking about, by the way), just cool it for a second.

The end is not nigh for gingers just yet. Because other experiments suggest the opposite theory: that grey hair in other animals (i.e. humans) can be a sign of cellular stress.

So the contradiction still stands that grey mops could be a sign of damage to pigment-producing cells, which could suggest deterioration.

I’m so confused, what is the truth?!?

Well, either way, I’d like to think we’re still going to look pretty cool when we’re old. Maybe as cool as Betty White?

Until then, let’s have fun with our ginger hair, and always remember the SPF!

 

By Emma

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