Genetics study on hair color origin and meaning

The scientific journal Nature Genetics has published an article reporting the results of a study performed by researchers Pirro G. Hysi and Ana M. Valdes, from King’s College London, on 300,000 people’s DNA, aimed at determining the genetic origins of hair color. The results demonstrate that 123 genes are responsible for hair color, which fairly exceeds estimates based on current theories, according to which only 13 genes can influence hair color. However, it is apparently confirmed that genes influence hair color by modifying the concentration ratio of dyers eumelanin and pheomelanin produced by melanocytes. At the same time, the research has revealed that genes linked to fair or red hair are more common in women, while those linked to dark hair are more often found in men. Most surprisingly, genes responsible for hair color are also related to the onset of some cancer types and some autoimmune diseases. This observation should give pause for thought when considering to apply genetic engineering to modify hair color.

(Source: Nature Genetics)