Experts Uncover Cause of Greyness

grey hairDo not blame your kids on your gray hair. They have got nothing to do with it. You are simply aging and the hydrogen peroxide in your hair is just building up. This is the conclusion of a study conducted by researchers at the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom.

Hydrogen peroxide, catalase, and aging

Our body naturally produces this powerful and versatile oxidant, which interferes with our melanin (or the pigment that gives color to our skin and hair). Our body also produces catalase, an enzyme that breaks down hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water, at least for a while.

The production of catalase tails off as we age, leaving nothing to break the oxidant down into chemicals our body can release. So you go gray because hydrogen peroxide in your hair builds up as you age.

Other factors

The researchers also found that the follicles of people with gray hair had fewer hair-repair enzymes, driving down the production of melanin. They also suspect that genetics have an important role in the process, observing that some people (Caucasians) gray hair appears earlier than other people (Asians).

Moreover, the researchers hypothesize that the same mechanism may be responsible for vitiligo, a condition where white spots become visible in the skin.

New insight

According to John Wood, who led the study published in the online journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, their findings "could open new strategies for intervention and reversal of the hair graying process." Professor Gerald Weissmann from New York University also said in an interview, "It gives you insight into how we age in general. They got the molecular basis of aging down pat."

Hair-care industry

The researchers are very optimistic that there will soon be a way to alter the chemical soup in order to keep hair color, which is no doubt of high interest to hair-care industry. According to a Global Industry Analysts market report, this industry will be valued at around $42.5 billion worldwide by the year 2010.

Weissmann is hopeful that it will not be long before hair products to control hydrogen peroxide in our hair (our body in general) are developed. He said, "The rule goes when basic science is discovered it is quickly followed by a product."

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