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Why Your Hair Goes Gray?

What are the causes of gray hair?

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Updated April 05, 2009

Gray Hair

Gray Hair

Blue Jean Images / Getty Images
Gray hair has always been something of a mystery. Sure, as people age, they go gray – everybody knows that. But up until recently, no one really understood why gray hair is a common “side effect” of aging. There are all sorts of “beliefs” around the causes of gray hair like too much stress or teenagers.

Researchers Take On Gray Hair

One of the reasons that we know so little about the causes of gray hair is because no one has really tried to figure it out. But now, with some many people aging and interested in looking younger, the business case for figuring out gray hair is very becoming compelling. Here is what they have figured out:

Hydrogen Peroxide Causes Gray Hair

As you age, the amount of hydrogen peroxide in your hair increases. This happens because hydrogen peroxide (believe it or not) is produced naturally in your body. When levels in hair build up, it (essentially) bleaches out your normal hair color and leaves with gray hair.

Why Does Hydrogen Peroxide Build Up and Cause Gray Hair?

What happens is that an enzyme in your body (called catalase) usually breaks down the hydrogen peroxide. But, as you age, your body produces less and less catalase, leaving a surplus of hydrogen peroxide.

Reversing Gray Hair

Now that we know why hair goes gray, the chances of developing a “treatment” for gray hair becomes much more likely.

Reversing Gray Hair

Now that we know why hair goes gray, the chances of developing a “treatment” for gray hair becomes much more likely. By increases the activity of enzymes that break down hydrogen peroxide while stimulating the producing of melanin (the pigment that colors hair), then gray hair may be a thing of the past.

Source: J. M. Wood, H. Decker, H. Hartmann, B. Chavan, H. Rokos, J. D. Spencer, S. Hasse, M. J. Thornton, M. Shalbaf, R. Paus, and K. U. Schallreuter Senile hair graying: H2O2-mediated oxidative stress affects human hair color by blunting methionine sulfoxide repair. FASEB J. published Feb 23, 2009.

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