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.