5 Facts You Didn’t Know About Redheads

While only about 2 percent of people have naturally red hair, there are plenty of fun facts about gingers.

By Beth Dreher
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They're harder to anesthetize

A small study in the journal Anesthesiology found that redheaded women required 19 percent more of the anesthesia desflurane to be put to sleep than women with dark hair. Some scientists think that the protein mutation that causes red hair and fair skin makes redheads more sensitive to pain and therefore it's more difficult to anesthetize them.

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They have more sex than blondes or brunettes

"The sex lives of women with red hair were clearly more active than those with other hair color, with more partners and having sex more often than the average," Hamburg sex researcher Professor Werner Habermehl told the Daily Mail, after leading a survey of 6,000 German women through the Hamburg Medical Research Institute in Germany.

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They're at risk for melanoma

According to a 2010 meta-analysis in the International Journal of Cancer, redheads are about two and a half times as likely to develop the dangerous skin cancer as people with other hair colors.

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Scientists have used birds and boars to understand redheads

In their attempt to understand how pheomelanin, the pigment that makes hair red, affects gingers' health, scientists have examined similarly auburn-tinted feathers and fur. The results? Boars taught the experts that redheads may be at high risk for cellular damage from free radicals; and a study of more than 1,400 species of birds suggested that the pigment may be associated with smaller brain size.

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They're not going extinct

As science journalist Maggie Koerth-Baker writes, "Actually, redheads are stealthily infiltrating the rest of humanity." Here's her proof: Even though only 2 percent of people have red hair, 4 percent have the gene that makes redheads. (If you have freckles, you're probably a carrier). So, while two redheads won't produce a brunette, two brunettes could produce a redhead.

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