Earwax facts

This particular subject is on my mind for two reasons:

  1. My husband’s  got a nasty ear infection, of which he has a long history.
  2. I got a real humdinger of cerumen out this morning, that so impressed me I just had to brag.

Cerumen – in case you, like me, didn’t know – is just another word for earwax. Like most other gross excretions, ear wax is made by your body, for your body, primarily with dead skin, protein and fatty acids. Earwax helps  you by protecting and lubing up the ear canal. Lesser duties include protection against infection, insects and water – we think. The actual scientific functions of cerumen is not certainly known.

DID YOU KNOW? There are two types of earwax: wet and dry. It’s all in the genes: a single gene mutation determines your wax type, which is believed to be linked to ethnicity. The dominant wet wax is most common in White and Black individuals, while the recessive dry wax is seen primarily in Asians and Native Americans. No more than 3% of those of European and African descent have dry wax, but over 95% of East Asians do.

Obviously, ethnicity is not the final factor in deciding what earwax you’ll spend your life with. I’ll let The NYT take us home:

The single mutation in the earwax gene is one in which a G (for guanine) is replaced with an A (for adenine). People who inherit the version of the gene that has A from both parents have dry earwax. Those who carry two of the G versions, or one G and one A, are destined to live with wet earwax.

I cannot say for sure what gender, sexual orientation or hair color my future babies will inherit, but I do know that my cerumen  will go on. Call me strange, but I find that both comforting and fascinating.

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