Sunday, September 22, 2013
Scientists believe that the “ginger gene,” or “V6OL allele,” showed up 50,000 years ago after humans left Africa for colder climates
This gene made human skin lighter, as they were exposed to less vitamin D from the sun. Scientists made this discovery having studied the gene evolution of 1,000 people from Spain. Ten percent of Irish people have red hair. In total there are 20 million people in Britain and Ireland with the gene that can cause red hair and it remains a dominant gene in southern Europeans today. However, this paler skin also brought health risks, such as melanoma, the deadliest form of cancer, but this is not necessarily due to the redhead gene itself. As a consequence of depigmentation there has been a collateral damage consequence to health. This can be reconciled if we assume that melanoma is typically a post-reproductive disease, and consequently should have little effect on the individual’s genetic contribution to the next generation.