Posted on Mar 04, 2009, 10 a.m.
By gary clark
New knowledge of why hair turns gray could lead to development of innovative anti-aging strategies, scientists say.
In time, everyone's hair turns gray. In fact, our chances of going gray increase 10 to 20 percent every decade after we turn 30. Now, scientists have discovered why our hair turns gray as we age: it's the result of a chain reaction. Specifically, over the course of a lifetime, human hair follicles slowly produce hydrogen peroxide. When the levels of the enzyme "catalase" begin to drop as we age, that natural bleach cannot be broken down. According to WebMD, knowing why hair turns gray could lead to the development of new "anti-aging strategies."
"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," explains Dr . Gerald Weissmann, a research professor of medicine at New York University and editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal. And he adds: "Our bodies age the same way a photograph age. Hydrogen peroxide does to our hair - and the rest of our body - what sunlight does to photos and furniture that have been left out in the sun."
Genetics also play a role. "We've found that Asians turn gray at a much slower rate than Caucasians," Weissmann says, who notes that gray hair is a side effect of living longer, because humans were initially meant to live only long enough to reproduce and pass on their DNA. "Chemistry is so well understood that there are ways of overcoming graying, by making chemicals to rub on their scalp," he emphasizes. "That's in the future."
News Release: Why does hair turn gray? Scientists know. www.findingdulcinea.com March 2, 2009