Why Does Hair Turn Gray? Scientists Know.

March 02, 2009 02:01 PM
by Lindsey Chapman
A recent study has yielded an explanation for why human hair turns gray with age. This insight could lead to the development of advanced anti-aging products.

Gray Hair Explained

People have long known that graying hair is a sign of aging, but exactly why hair goes gray has been a mystery.

In late February scientists answered that question, according to WebMD.

It is believed that gray hair is the result of a chemical chain reaction. When the levels of an enzyme called catalase start to drop, naturally-occurring hydrogen peroxide in our hair can’t be broken down.

“Not only blondes change their hair color with hydrogen peroxide,” Dr. Gerald Weissmann, research professor and editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal said in a press release. “All of our hair cells make a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide, but as we get older, this little bit becomes a lot. We bleach our hair pigment from within, and our hair turns gray and then white.”

The discovery could help with the development of “new anti-graying strategies,” according to WebMD.

“Chemistry is so well-understood that there are ways of overcoming (graying), by making chemicals to rub on their scalp,” Weissmann said in a FOX News article. “That’s in the future.”

Related Topic: Genes and other aspects of our appearance

When it comes to growing teeth, sharks have it made. Sharks have several rows of teeth, “any one of which can be re-grown,” according to Digital Journal. Scientists want to find out what gene prevents humans from having more than one set of teeth. Cracking that genetic code and finding a way to help humans grow new teeth could help people avoid falling victim to gum disease and tooth loss. Researchers believe the Osr2 gene may be the ticket to understanding tooth growth. After breeding mice without the gene, the rodents developed extra teeth next to their original molars.

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