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Science

Redheads Feel Pain Differently Than the Rest of Us 265

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-redheads-were-harmed-in-the-posting-of-this-story dept.
schwit1 writes "If you think redheads are inherently different, well, you'd be right; they're better than you. In fact, they have a higher pain threshold than most of us, and can handle spicier food, too. It turns out that gingers are less sensitive to stinging pain in the skin, according to researchers who injected capsicum, the active ingredient in chilies, into the arms of patients. Professor Lars Arendt-Nielsen, one of the researchers, said, 'Our tests showed that redheads are less sensitive to this particular type of pain. They react less to pressure close to the injected area, or to a pinprick. They seem to be a bit better protected, and that is a really interesting finding.' The finding also means redheads can handle spicier food, reports Science Nordic. It lends some scientific weight to previous suggestions that gingers have a different pain response to the rest of, which were even investigated by MythBusters."
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Redheads Feel Pain Differently Than the Rest of Us

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  • Duh (Score:5, Funny)

    by dschmit1 (1353767) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:20AM (#39257441) Journal
    That's what happens when you are without a soul.
    • by Ironchew (1069966)

      You dun know who has a soul and who dunnit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ThomasFlip (669988)
      Uhh, they weren't talking about full gingers, they were talking about day-walkers. Get your facts straight.
  • Eureka (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:21AM (#39257443)

    This report jibes with my own ongoing research into the pain threshold of redheads. In the videos, they seem to almost enjoy the pain. It is quite fascinating stuff!

  • by bmo (77928) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:23AM (#39257461)

    "I'm not like other people. Pain hurts me" - Daffy Duck

  • Gingers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:25AM (#39257475)

    All this time I thought that calling someone a 'ginger' was pejorative.

  • My hair color ranges from brown to noticeably red depending on the season and sunlight. I get it bad enough that I eat everything with hot sauce. Chicken, beef, french fries, potato chips, popcorn, straight from the bottle on occasion. Now I need to brace for a whole new round of ribbing that this might be due to my hair color than just my incredibly bad taste in food :(.

    • by chromas (1085949)
      Why can't it be both?
    • What type of hotsauce? I've known a few people that claim to love hotsauce, but then I find out they're talking about tobasco sauce, which to me just tastes like vinegar. One drop of my 500,000 scoville sauce and they you wouldn't believe how fast they run! Good time, good times...
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A friend of mine has some "Dave's Total Insanity Private Reserve." Holy fuck that stuff is hot. I touched a toothpick to my tounge that had been dipped into the bottle. First my tounge went numb, about 20 minutes later the pain started and I had this wonderful aftertaste. All in all, it was not a totally unpleasant experience.

        • by QQBoss (2527196)

          I love this stuff (600000 Scoville units):
          MadDog 357 Collector's Edition [hotsauceworld.com]

          One of the few high (100K+ is high to me. No, I am not a red head.) capsaicin sauces I have had which also tastes good. I would mix it into most any appropriate food, though rarely was more than a drop needed when cooking for one. Add to that the fun of putting one single drop on one random tidbit put out for unsuspecting snacking adds a wonderful dimension to an evening of gaming or any other event where you don't mind being called a

      • Have you tried this bad boy? [hotsaucefanatics.com] We use it here at work for initiation of new guys. An amount the size of half a pea is enough to start you sweating and hyperventilating (and in some cases, panic, it would seem. Whoops.) Claims to be 6m scoville. I dunno about that, but it's definitely not something I could ever use as a condiment.
        Right now I am having a disappointing pasta salad, made happy by this guy. [mopeppers.at] Nice kick, garlic taste, lovely stuff.
      • by Algan (20532)

        A teaspoon of The Hottest Fuckin' Sauce (600K Scoville) in my bowl of chilli, please.
        Yeah, I'm a Ginger :)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:31AM (#39257511)

    Redheads need more anesthetic to dull pain: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1362956
    Greater response to pentazocine: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=153647
    And morphine: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?tool=pmcentrez&artid=1736101

    So there's clearly something about MC1R that differentiates pain / killer response; but please stay off the soulless daywalker stuff. It's not helpful and just sounds juvenile.

    Oh wait, this is slashdot, I forgot. Whereas you had to invent kick a redhead day, why don't we have kick a geek day? Oh, because that's EVERY DAY... :-)

    Ha, best of all the captcha is "placid".

    • by Z00L00K (682162)

      And if redheads are less sensitive to pain - does that include mental pain?

      This may lead to an explanation to why it is said that redheads are wilder than others. When they were penalized for doing something wrong when they were kids wasn't hurting them as much compared to other kids even though the penalty was the same.

    • Red hair can be caused by at least for different genes on MC1R Arg151Cys, Arg160Trp, Asp294His, and Arg142His and possibly others on HCL2

      And all of these are recessive so non-redhaired people can and often do have them too...

      So which are they testing, some of these, a mixture of these ... .. and what against, people without the recessive genes, people with some of the recessive genes ...?

  • I have red hair and my wife has red hair. I can tell you that skin gashes and getting jabbed friggin' hurts, and since I like working on old cars I get a lot of that kind of damage to my hands and arms, and I've never liked needles. I'll definitely never be an intravenous drug user or tattoo junkie.

    Both of us have somewhat thin hair. I wonder if those redheads with really thick hair might have something different enough going on to where their pain receptors are not as sensitive.

    • Of course it hurts. This isn't saying it doesn't hurt. It's saying that for people without your hair genes, it hurts even more, especially when spiciness is involved.

      • by Capsaicin (412918) * on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:58AM (#39257747)

        This isn't saying it doesn't hurt. It's saying that for people without your hair genes, it hurts even more.

        Well it's saying that for people with our genes as a population it hurts less. Of course I (and OP) would have to borrow a blonde body for a while to be sure on an individual level, but it's apparent to me that I deal with pain better most people I know. I'd always put it down to stoicism though, but perhaps I am actually feeling less pain.

    • Both of us have somewhat thin hair. I wonder if those redheads with really thick hair might have something different enough going on to where their pain receptors are not as sensitive.

      Well, duh - when you whack someone in the head, thicker hair provides more of a cushion.

  • Gingers? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SecurityGuy (217807) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:35AM (#39257549)

    You know, we've come a long way. We used to put people down for a host of things. About a century ago we got over the notion that women weren't smart enough to vote. Not so many decades ago being black and flirting with a white woman could get you killed [wikipedia.org]. I'll bet more than a few of you are acquainted with the idea that "nerd" was not a badge of honor way back in high school. Like I say, we've come a long way, but it's somehow still cool to put down the "gingers".

    Grow up already.

    And not to be totally off topic, but this notion of people with red hair having a differing response to pain has been known for a long time. Wikipedia has references going back at least decade. I'm pretty sure I've known about this for longer than that. Finding older refs is left as an exercise for the reader.

    • by ThePeices (635180)

      I think its down to the fact that people have not yet sorted out whether Gingerism is a bad thing or not.

      Is it un-ethical to commit Gingerism? Or even immoral?

      To be honest, I really dont know, I havent thought about it deeply enough.
      We need more debate on the subject, and need to reach a consensus.

      • IIRC one or more of the dating sites (match.com? OKcupid.com? I dunno) has basically told redheads not to apply, because nobody will go out with them. I personally have always been a sucker for redheads, but have only once had any kind of relationship.

    • I think everybody else should grow up already.

      By what means do pejoratives become silly anachronisms? Certainly not by enshrining them as society-wide PC ban-words. Bash a word out of common use and it'll just be replaced by something else that those who hold disdain will begin to use anew. The problem is the disdain, not the label, and anybody who rails against the label thinking its absence will solve anything is spouting balderdash.

    • Re:Gingers? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bonker (243350) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:15AM (#39257845)

      I've always thought the 'Gingers have no souls' bit was invented totally by Matt Stone, a Jewish/Irish/American ginger, for 'South Park' as a 'take that' for Jewish critics of the show who describe him as a 'Self-hating Jew'.

      I've always thought that Ginger skin-tone and hair coloration was very attractive on women. I've not heard a lot of disrespect for Gingers before the South Park episode, and then it's been entirely tongue-in-cheek.

      • by 6Yankee (597075)

        Guess you didn't go through the school system as one. Ginger nerd with glasses, yeah, that was fun.

    • by chrismcb (983081)

      >

      Grow up already.

      Yeah, whatever... stop being so damn insensitive, and stop getting offended by every little thing.
      Not only am I a red head I was voted the top nerd in high school.
      Its one thing to not allow someone to vote, or to force them to drink from another water fountain... But you know, sticks and stones...

      • by stjobe (78285)

        But you know, sticks and stones...

        ...may break my bones, but words can REALLY hurt me?

  • Capsaicin (Score:5, Informative)

    by enoz (1181117) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:36AM (#39257563)

    according to researchers who injected capsicum, the active ingredient in chilies

    TFS is wrong, as specified in TFA the ingredient is capsaicin

    Cue the obligatory "you must be new here" for expecting editors to edit...

    • Well, not necessarily. It depends what they injected. Capsicum is the plant, and the extract from the plant. It is widely described, and a common herbal remedy. Capsaicin is the pure chemical. I Googled, and found both terms are common, and mean different things.) Since capsaicin by itself is incredibly strong, whatever was injected was probably in some dilute form so the test dose could be accurately measured, so it could have been either capsaicin diluted with alcohol or something, or (less likely,

    • by dbIII (701233)

      according to researchers who injected capsicum, the active ingredient in chilies, into the arms of patients

      You think that's bad? Think about where they injected it when doing research on whether the stuff could cure bladder incontinence in men. You'd want a high pain threshold there.
      Maybe it worked because of the "will you stop doing it to me if I say I'm cured?" factor. :)

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:38AM (#39257577)

    Are they testing someone in the same genetic pool that isn't a ginger? Because different ethnic groups are going to be conditioned to respond to and express things differently.

    Personally, I have brown hair and a very high pain threshold. Everyone in my family is the same way and none of us are gingers. I further don't think it's genetic in our cases. We have an ingrained and conditioned intolerance to whining in ourselves and others. It's just a family thing. We don't express it and we don't respond to it.

    So to take this seriously, I'd need to know they were doing an apples to apples comparison to remove cultural and ethnic distinctions.

  • I'm the only fair skinned redhead in my immediate family (and indeed, my closest redhead relation was my grandfather), and in regards to spicy foods, this explains something. Whenever I cook I always go with a heavy spice load, my family complains about it- all blondes and brunettes. I honestly thought they were just wusses.
  • "...which were even investigated by MythBusters."

    Not to mention the more well known science show, South Park.

  • Beard turns ginger, hair is brown, English / Scottish / Irish heritage back a way.
    I can confirm my love for chili but my personal pain tolerance is probably one of the worst for any living adult male in existence. I can't take the most basic pain, excercise hurts too much, everything hurts too much. I have incredibly sentive ribs and hate being jabbed in them. The simplest of bumps hurt and I'm sure things shouldn't hurt this much.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:47AM (#39257663)

    Time to rethink all of your redhead BSDM fantasies.

  • Finally science can explain Carrot Top.
    http://www.google.com/search?q=carrot+top [google.com]

    • Finally science can explain Carrot Top.
      http://www.google.com/search?q=carrot+top [google.com]

      I refuse to believe Carrot Top has a higher pain tolerance without arduous testing. Let me go grab my sledge...

      Oh, and I hear Gallagher was a red-head before he dyed it (what hair he has left) - let's test his pain tolerance too.

  • by medcalf (68293) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:51AM (#39257701) Homepage
    I guess that explains why my wife has rules about how much chili powder and cayenne I'm allowed to use in the chili.
  • If you think redheads are inherently different, well, you'd be right; they're better than you.

    Who said that less pain is better?. People that not feel pain (analgesia disease), can't live normally.

    • by ClintJCL (264898)
      Too bad that's not what this is about, and your comment is thusly wholly irrelevant. There's a big difference between "less" and "none".
  • So its really OK to beat them up?
  • I am currently the servant of an Orange Tabby cat. He's about as close to the cartoon Garfield as a real-life cat could be.

    First -- it seems obvious to me that the genes that make humans red-headed are the same as the ones that make cats orange -- the color is virtually the same and they have freckles on their nose and lips that darken as they spend more time in the sun.

    He is not a "scaredy-cat" like other cats. He only hides when he is the hunter. He regular stands up to dogs 5 times his size when they

    • it seems obvious to me that the genes that make humans red-headed are the same as the ones that make cats orange

      Cat colours are due to variations in the womb, not genetic. That is why cloned cats generally do not look like their gene donors.

  • FTA:

    Research reveals that redheads:
    are more sensitive to cold

    ...
    In other respects, however, redheads turn out to be tougher than other people.

    Research has produced evidence that redheads are less sensitive to stinging pain in the skin.

    This was shown in tests where capsaicin, the active substance in chilli, was injected into the skin to produce pain.
    ...
    "Our tests showed that redheads are less sensitive to this particular type of pain. They react less to pressure close to the injected
  • by Ginger_Chris (1068390) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:33AM (#39258337)

    Reduction in skin pain seems very useful when you're at a much higher risk of sun burn.

  • by Evtim (1022085) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @05:31AM (#39259189)

    All these years of torturing and burning must account for something! Are they fire-proof as well?

  • by assertation (1255714) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @10:59AM (#39260951)

    I don't understand how someone came up with the slang "Ginger" for redheads when ginger is yellow and red hair is closer to being or orange or the closer to the color of turmeric.

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