Locks of Beethoven’s hair reveal ailments and secret family history

Locks of Beethoven's hair reveal secret family history and health issues. (Photo: Pixabay / MGN)

CAMBRIDGE, UK (CNN) — Famed composer Ludwig Van Beethoven saved locks of his hair more than 200 years ago so future scientists could study his ailments.

Now, they have done just that, and found some surprising results in the process.

Researchers analyzed the DNA from Beethoven’s hair to try and shed light on his health issues.

The composer famously had progressive hearing loss, along with gastrointestinal problems.

Unfortunately, scientists were unable to find a definitive cause of those ailments.

However, they did discover a number of genetic risk factors for liver disease.

The samples collected also showed signs that Beethoven had hepatitis B.

They say those factors, combined with heavy alcohol consumption, likely contributed to his early death at the age of 56.

That’s not all they found though.

The DNA samples also revealed a family secret.

After comparing the samples to living relatives in Belgium, researchers discovered the “Y” chromosome did not match.

That suggests an affair on Beethoven’s father’s side at some point, that resulted in a child.

The research findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

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