March 28, 2012 by Turn The Page
It was only a few years ago that I began hearing rumors that the red hair recessive gene would eventually be dying out. Perhaps the comments came as friends viewed my family photos to realize this issue was pretty close to home. Somehow the trait missed me, however it landed on my grandmother, uncle and cousins – we’ve got a great group of redheads in the family. After watching each generation in my family, I couldn’t see any way that redheads would eventually become extinct. Yet there was a gnawing thought in me as the years have gone on … could it be true?
Red Hair Will Be No More?
Apparently the claims that red hair will become extinct within 100 years are nothing new. There was a host of them in 2005, and then again in 2007. With the way news travels on the Internet, it’s sure that the stories will come around once again. Several news outlets and blogs covered stories that the Oxford Hair Foundation said redheads would be gone by 2060. (By the way, apparently the Oxford Hair Foundation is a Proctor & Gamble organization.) The world was shaken and started diving into the science behind the red hair gene. While some jumped on board and believed redheads would eventually die out, others weren’t so quick to believe the stories.
About the Red Hair Recessive Gene
Individuals born with red hair received a recessive gene from both mom and dad. According to How Stuff Works,
“Red hair is caused by a mutation in the MC1R gene. It’s also a recessive trait, so it takes both parents passing on a mutated version of the MC1R gene to produce a redheaded child. Because it’s a recessive trait, red hair can easily skip a generation. It can then reappear after skipping one or more generations if both parents, no matter their hair color, carry the red hair gene.
While red hair may become uncommon in the years to come, scientists say that red hair will NOT be extinct and gone for good. And in my family, that’s a good thing. It’s the red hair that signifies that we’re related, that we’re of Irish descent, and that we won’t show grays as we get older. (You should totally see my grandma.) And although I didn’t happen to be born with red hair, I consider myself a pseudo-redhead since it runs in the family. And because I unfortunately got the light skin that comes with it.
Testing Your Genes
Sure, red hair can have its negatives – those with it tend to be more prone to sunburns (then skin cancer.) And many aren’t loving their freckled skin. However red hair tends to run thick through family lines and in a way, connects you with other family members and friends who’ve also gone 2-for-2 on receiving recessive genes from mom & dad.
Gene testing for any reason – whether it be to learn of your ancestry or see which dominant and recessive genes you have – is only going to continue to grow in popularity and demand. From hair color to family lines, the answers hiding in our DNA will become anything but extinct.