Sunday, August 2, 2009

Redheads And Ice Cream Brain Freeze

I come from a family of redheads -- my father, my aunt, my daughter, my nephews, several of my cousins, Phinnaeus -- all with the characteristic fair skin, freckles and red or auburn hair. Today I read something interesting about redheads on the CNN website:

Studies have indicated that redheads may be more sensitive to pain and may need more anesthetics to numb them. "Redheads are sensitive to pain," said Dr. Daniel Sessler, an Outcomes Research Department chair at The Cleveland Clinic, in Cleveland, Ohio, who is one of the authors.

"They require more generalized anesthesia, localized anesthesia. The conventional doses fail." Sessler, an anesthesiologist, began studying redheads' sensitivity to pain after hearing chatter from colleagues. "The persistent rumor in the anesthesia community was that redheads were difficult to anesthetize," Sessler said. "They didn't go under, had a lot of pain, didn't respond well to anesthesia. Urban legends usually don't start studies, but it was such an intriguing observation." This led to two studies. In 2004, research showed that people with red hair need 20 percent more general anesthesia than blonds and brunettes.

A 2005 study indicated that redheads are more sensitive to thermal pain and are more resistant to the effects of local anesthesia. Researchers believe variants of the melanocortin-1 receptor gene play a role. This MC1R gene produces melanin, which gives skin, hair and eyes their color. While blond, brown and black-haired people produce melanin, those with red hair have a mutation of this receptor. It produces a different coloring called pheomelanin, which results in freckles, fair skin and ginger hair. About 5 percent of whites are estimated to have these characteristics. While the relationship between MC1R and pain sensitivity is not entirely understood, researchers have found MC1R receptors in the brain and some of them are known to influence pain sensitivity.
... CNN

Well, I find that very interesting. How many other traits are programmed into us through our genetic material? Do people with dark hair and brown eyes love rice pudding and Mozart, while perhaps people with blonde hair and blue eyes prefer, oh, I don't know -- roller coaster rides and tea with honey? Are our likes, dislikes, hobbies, interests, talents -- and more -- all part of our genetic makeup? I absolutely love brussels sprouts. They are my favorite TV snack -- a big bowl of brussels sprouts, with some butter, salt and pepper. My Aunt Bobbie also loved brussels sprouts as a TV snack. Is that a coincidence? No one else in my family loves brussels sprouts, let me tell you...

When I see the elegant young lady that Marigold is becoming, I see so much of my mother in her, it amazes me. My mother would have adored Marigold; they are both cut from exactly the same cloth. Marigold is a delicate eater, just the way my mother was. To watch Marigold eat a meal is like watching my mother -- she even holds her hands in the same manner. And my daughter and my mother were very close and shared a lot of similar DNA. Phinnaeus, however, has inherited so much of my father's DNA, they even look alike and they share the same interests in politics, philosophy, conversation. These two little people have never met my mother and father, and yet -- my parents live on through the DNA that has been passed to the children.

When I was about 14, I was looking through a photo album of my father's. I saw pictures of myself at about age ten, that I did not remember being taken. I was playing on a swing, running through a forest path, wearing a dress I did not recognize. I said to my Dad, "When were these pictures of me taken? I don't remember any of these." My Dad said, "Those aren't pictures of you; those are pictures of your Aunt Evelyn." Evelyn was my Dad's sister, I am her double, and I apparently have her personality as well. She was very well-liked in the community where she lived, thank goodness.

Incidentally, my father was a redhead, and he could not eat ice cream without suffering from painful brain freeze. But he loved ice cream, so he suffered through it. Now I understand it was part of his redhead DNA. I believe as genetic fingerprinting is more understood, we will discover more about who we are. I am especially interested in cellular memory, but that is a blog for another day.

17 comments:

KathyB. said...

I was having a discussion about this very topic last night. We discussed how so many very particular attributes and personality traits show up in us or adopted children who never knew their biological family until later in life, and then discover they have so much in common and are so like people they could not have learned these things from. It's in the genes....

I did not know my biological paternal father or his family til after I was 30 years old, and when I finally met some of them it was a shocker for me....I was just like them! And my children are too...and this answered so many questions.

So, red heads ARE very special....good post Jo! Thanks.

Carl said...

Very interesting post Jo. Genetics have a lot to do with who we are as people. Our environments and morals play a huge part in it too, but the genes set us up for everything else I guess.

The Bug said...

I always WANTED to be a redhead, but perhaps now I'm glad I'm not - especially with shoulder surgery looming next week! This is fascinating & I'm passing it on to the redheads in my life - especially my former boss who had to be chased around the office when it was time for her TB test (we worked with the MR/DD population). And we thought she was just a weenie!

Brenda said...

I had just starting noticing families resemblance when my daughter was expecting our first grand child. I hadn't given it much thought until then. I was observing it in other families while she was expecting. When our grand daughter was born, she was like a cameleon. Every picture we took of her seemed to look like a different family member. Her father and his mother have very red hair. Funny that you said that about the ice cream brain freeze. Whenever he eats ice cream his shoulder hurts really bad.

TC said...

Nature vs nurture, I have the bad habits, (humming teeth tapping) of all my aunts and mother, I can shoot and drive like my dad.....
I'm brunette and need more pain medication than most, I always thought it was because it took quite a bit to affect my body though? I can drink most under the table, not the best thing to aim for but it shows my body isn't affected by things as much as others?

Land of shimp said...

Genetic memory is a fascinating subject. The old Nature vs. Nurture debate invariably comes into play, also.

What I find interesting is that we believe our current understand of all things scientific to be rather advanced, but judging by history and how much has changed in that understanding in the last 100 years, our scientific knowledge is likely in its infancy.

Fifty years from now we will likely look back on our levels of understanding and want to pat that on the head. It will seem naive to us, or overly simplified.

Clearly there is something to genetic memory, and genetic predisposition that goes beyond our current understanding. Even our medicine is overly generalized.

There is still so much more to know. My husband and I had a conversation about how some people believe in past life memories and how amusing that often seems. Particularly since just about everyone was Cleopatra.

However, what if that sense of knowing about lives long before ours actually ties into genetic memory? Sounds silly, but one thing is clear, we have a lot to uncover still in our current understanding of all that goes into making us.

pranksygang said...

This is an interesting post dear!! I love redheads from the moment i read about them in Harry Potter! I love Ronald because he is a redhead!

Marguerite said...

What a fascinating subject, Jo. I think it's all in the genes, too. I believe that DNA determines almost everything about us, and not just physical attributes. I have been told by many people that I am my great-grandmother's double. And for that, I am thankful because she lived to be 98 and her name was also Marguerite. BTW, I love brussel sprouts, too!

Owen said...

This is fabulous Jo, I hadn't seen that about redheads and pain... but that could explain alot. Don't know if you might ever have come across Tom Robbins' book "Still Life With Woodpecker", but he reveals quite a bit about redheads in that lovely story...

I'm a redhead too... well, let's say strawberry blond... :-D

Judi said...

Interesting post!
There is an award awaiting you at
http://judi-mindovermatter.blogspot.com/2009/08/proximidade-award.html

Patty said...

Very interesting article. I never knew this before about redheads.

JoMo said...

Great discussion. As a slight veer from the genetic path topic, I believe that the *nurture* part of our early life can either encourage or discourage many of our inborn senses/instincts/intuition...or put it another way, nurture affects to what degree we rely on or trust our gut instincts.
Interesting topic!

robert said...

Good morning Jo,
so far only met two redheads in my life. Both became good friends of mine. Hope to be able to know you as well for much time to come.
Please have a nice Tuesday.

Pat said...

Very interesting post. Reading the statistics on redheads and anesthesia, I wonder if a study has been done with redheads and the occurrence of Malignant Hyperthermia. That is a reaction to anesthesia that can be deadly. The body temperature can rise, and the muscle tissue starts to break down and can cause the kidneys to fail because they can't filter well enough. This reaction is caused by a combination of an inhalant anesthesia and a muscle relaxant (usually to intubate the patient). If the patient is aware that they have MH, they can still have surgery, but just be given non-triggering anesthesia. Both my children have MH. 50% of the time it is hereditary. They got it from their biological father. Four out of five people in that family have tested positive to MH. For more information you can contact MHAUS, Malignant Hyperthermia Association of the United States.

Country Girl said...

When my father was young and in school, he had a lot of friends. He grew up, moved away, married my mother and had 7 children.
One Sunday, as all of us were leaving church that morning, a woman came running up to us outside. She went right to my father and exclaimed, "it is you!"

She had seen my sister Judy walking up the aisle to receive communion and said that she looked so much like my father as a young boy. down to her crooked grin. But what did it for her was that she even walked like him.

We remained friends with that family, the Rossi's until I grew up and moved away.

lovelyprism said...

It is just bizarre to see not only physical but personality traits pass from your parents or some other relative down to your children. This has always fascinated me. I just recently noticed my daughter has some of the same personality tendencies as my Aunt B. They only met once when my daughter was very young and Aunt B. has since passed. I've always been amazed by what seems to be passed to them through nothing but common DNA.

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