Do Cowlicks Mean You Have Cancer-Fighting Genes?

Cowlicks are no fun. They cause your hair to grow at an awkward angle that's usually at odds with the way you'd like to style it. While the rest of the hair on your head seems to have its act together, these hairs don't appear to have any idea which way they're supposed to grow. Named after the way cows lick their calves, swirling their hair in the process, cowlicks have come to represent unruly scalps around the world. Cowlicks are so common, in fact, that you can see them on the heads of celebrities like Brad Pitt or Victoria's Secret model, Candice Swanepoel.

Those who have cowlicks find them pretty frustrating, but a recent study revealed that they might have the power to save lives. Check out the images below to learn more about how this annoying hair conundrum could be a blessing in disguise.

Researchers at Michigan State University have discovered that the genes linked to cowlicks might hold a valuable key in the fight against cancer. How is this possible? Well, it all has to do with something called "polarity genes."

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Polarity genes are useful for a variety of different things in the human body. They aid in the flow and distribution of nutrients among cells, as well as dictate where the front and rear of cells are located. In short, polarity genes are vital for proper cell operation. One side effect of these polarity genes, however, is the tendency for bodily structures to grow in opposing patterns, which leads to things like cowlicks.

So, what do these genes have to do with fighting cancer? The protein in charge of organizing polarity genes in the body is actually known to suppress a certain type of tumor.

The researchers at MSU came to this conclusion by experimenting on fruit flies. When they removed the protein from flies, they found that their hair lost any signs of cowlicks, which made them believe that the same protein that governs polarity genes may also be responsible for cowlicks.


“Until now, people neglected the regulation of polarity genes, thinking them to be regulated in a rather humdrum manner similar to ‘housekeeping’ genes that are devoted to basic cellular functions,” said David Arnosti, an MSU professor who contributed to the study. “Our work challenges this view and raises an important question relevant to the development of new cancer diagnosis and therapies.”

Scientific Reports

While it's still early, the large amount of genetic similarities shared by fruit flies and humans give hope to the theory that this protein could be helpful in the fight against cancer. If so, scientists could develop a new type of chemotherapy that focuses on restoring this protein in patients.


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H/T: Viral Thread

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