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Scientists Find Gene That Controls Type of Earwax in People
NY Times ^ | January 30, 2006 | NICHOLAS WADE

Posted on 01/30/2006 3:02:26 AM PST by Pharmboy

Earwax may not play a prominent part in human history but at least a small role for it has now been found by a team of Japanese researchers.

Earwax comes in two types, wet and dry. The wet form predominates in Africa and Europe, where 97 percent or more of people have it, and the dry form among East Asians. The populations of South and Central Asia are roughly half and half. By comparing the DNA of Japanese with each type, the researchers were able to identify the gene that controls which type a person has, they report in today's issue of Nature Genetics.

snip

The dry form is quite common in Native Americans, confirming other genetic evidence that their ancestors migrated across the Bering Strait from Siberia 15,000 years ago.

snip

But earwax seems to have the very humble role of being no more than biological flypaper, preventing dust and insects from entering the ear. Since it seems unlikely that having wet or dry earwax could have made much difference to an individual's fitness, the earwax gene may have some other, more important function. Dr. Yoshiura and his colleagues suggest that the gene would have been favored because of its role in sweating.

They write that earwax type and armpit odor are correlated, since populations with dry earwax, such as those of East Asia, tend to sweat less and have little or no body odor, while the wet earwax populations of Africa and Europe sweat more and so may have more body odor. Several Asian features, like small nostrils, are conjectured to be adaptations to the cold. Less sweating, the Japanese authors suggest, may be another adaptation to the cold in which the ancestors of East Asian peoples are thought to have lived.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Japan; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: earwax; godsgravesglyphs; humanevolution; races
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Hmmmm...mine is wet sometimes and dry others.
1 posted on 01/30/2006 3:02:28 AM PST by Pharmboy
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To: blam; PatrickHenry; SunkenCiv

Not for your ping lists necessarily, but your interest.


2 posted on 01/30/2006 3:03:19 AM PST by Pharmboy (The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones.)
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To: Pharmboy
Hmmmm...mine is wet sometimes and dry others.

Does that mean you're a hybrid?

3 posted on 01/30/2006 3:05:04 AM PST by Sally'sConcerns (Native Texan now in SW Ok.)
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To: Pharmboy

Finally, something useful out of the NYT.

Well, maybe.


4 posted on 01/30/2006 3:05:17 AM PST by leadpenny
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To: Pharmboy

Wow, I can sleep at nights now!

j/k I actually think this is very interesting.


5 posted on 01/30/2006 3:06:14 AM PST by AntiGuv ()
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To: Pharmboy; Junior
Thanks. Junior may want to archive it. This is not for the evo list, but I know of another list that may be appropriate ...
6 posted on 01/30/2006 3:10:44 AM PST by PatrickHenry (True conservatives revere Adam Smith, Charles Darwin, and the Founding Fathers.)
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To: Pharmboy
They write that earwax type and armpit odor are correlated, since populations with dry earwax, such as those of East Asia, tend to sweat less and have little or no body odor, while the wet earwax populations of Africa and Europe sweat more and so may have more body odor.

So I guess French people squirt liquid earwax streams sideways?

7 posted on 01/30/2006 3:11:00 AM PST by ovrtaxt ("I've noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born."- Reagan)
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To: longshadow; VadeRetro; balrog666; Senator Bedfellow; RadioAstronomer; js1138; whattajoke; Shryke; ..
"Bodily Fluids and Secretions" Ping List
Don't ask to be added to or dropped from this list; I know what you like.

8 posted on 01/30/2006 3:12:33 AM PST by PatrickHenry (True conservatives revere Adam Smith, Charles Darwin, and the Founding Fathers.)
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To: Pharmboy

Shouldn't this be in "Breaking News"?


9 posted on 01/30/2006 3:13:22 AM PST by DugwayDuke (Stupidity can be a self-correcting problem.)
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To: Pharmboy
It's NOT genetic!!!!

Oops, wrong thread...

;o)
10 posted on 01/30/2006 3:18:58 AM PST by LIConFem (A fronte praecipitium, a tergo lupi.)
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To: DugwayDuke

Only on a slow newsday...I did hit the "Earwax ping list," though.


11 posted on 01/30/2006 3:19:26 AM PST by Pharmboy (The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones.)
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To: Pharmboy

Please allow me to be the first:

This is HUGH and SERIES!!!

(It's good to know that the gene folks are working on the important stuff first.)


12 posted on 01/30/2006 3:20:07 AM PST by Pete'sWife (Dirt is for racing... asphalt is for getting there.)
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To: Sally'sConcerns

I must be...at least I know my Y-chromosome comes from Sctoland.


13 posted on 01/30/2006 3:20:14 AM PST by Pharmboy (The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones.)
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To: LIConFem

LOL!!


14 posted on 01/30/2006 3:21:07 AM PST by Pharmboy (The stone age didn't end because they ran out of stones.)
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To: Pharmboy
Mine is wet after a shower.
15 posted on 01/30/2006 3:23:09 AM PST by Ninian Dryhope ("Bush lied, people dyed. Their fingers." The inestimable Mark Steyn)
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To: Pharmboy

FWIW, I was once working in the lab, searching for resonant frequencies of piezoelectric crystals, which we had groen * hand polished, and while tuning the freqs my ear emitted a huge ball of earwax. EUREKA! Funny how so many discoveries occur when one really isn't searching for that thing anyways.


16 posted on 01/30/2006 3:27:57 AM PST by Cvengr (<;^) Adversity in life and death is inevitable, stress is optional.)
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To: Pete'sWife
Kid: What did you do today, Daddy?
Father: I studied ear wax, Son.

What a role model!

17 posted on 01/30/2006 3:28:11 AM PST by Carolinamom
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To: Pharmboy

http://www.tchain.com/otoneurology/disorders/hearing/wax2.html


Ear wax defined


Ear wax is a normal product of the ear which protects the skin of the ear from water and infection. Ear wax is formed from wax glands in the external ear canal as well as other components such as dead skin, sweat, and oil. The primary component of ear wax is keratin (derived from dead skin). Ear wax thus differs slightly from cerumen which is the secretory product of the ceruminous glands in the external auditory canal (Hawke, 2002).

Different individuals vary considerably in the amount and consistency of their ear wax. There are two types described, wet and dry, which are inherited. Dry wax is common in Asia, while wet wax is common in western Europe. Dry wax, also known as "rice-bran wax", contains by weight about 20% lipid (fat). Oddly enough, rice-bran wax is associated with a lower incidence of breast cancer (Hawke, 2002).

Wet wax consists of approximately 50% lipid (Burkhart et al, 2000). Wet wax can be either soft or hard, the hard wax being more likely to be impacted. While ear wax is generally simply felt to be a nuisance, in medieval times, ear wax was used as a component of pigment for illumination of manuscripts (Petrakis, 2000). Too little ear wax increases the risk of infection (Fairey et al, 1985). Too much wax also increases the incidence of infection and hearing loss. So, you want just enough.

While we are not aware of a study of this, some people (and some ears) are "wax producers", and others remain wax free without much maintenence.

What can go wrong with ear wax ?
Wax can plug up the ear, causing hearing to be reduced, and a full feeling in the ear
Wax can trap bacteria in the ear, leading to infection. This is usually painful or at least itchy.
Ear wax can obscure vision when the doctor looks in your ears, possibly hiding a dangerous process.


18 posted on 01/30/2006 3:31:36 AM PST by CarrotAndStick (The articles posted by me needn't necessarily reflect my opinion.)
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To: Pharmboy
HUH?
19 posted on 01/30/2006 3:45:17 AM PST by Ken H
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To: Pharmboy

lets hope we didnt pay a fortune in taxes to fund this study.


20 posted on 01/30/2006 3:46:09 AM PST by Vaquero (time again for the Crusades.)
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