Do you know why hair is gray?

Presse Santé


After 30 years, every decade brings a 10 to 20% chance that your hair will turn gray. It is proven that almost everyone will sooner or later see that his hair turns gray. Hair color comes from the pigment, melanin. Each hair can contain dark melanin (eumelanin) and light melanin (pheomelanin), which combine to create many color shades of human hair.

When we are young, special pigmented stem cells, melanocytes, inject pigments into keratin-containing cells. This keratin, which is a protein, forms hair and gives it its color. As you age, melanin decreases, which is why the hair turns gray and then turns white (meaning that there is no more melanin in it).

The gene responsible for gray hair

What causes melanin loss and hair graying has long remained a mystery. An international team of scientists has discovered the first gene responsible for gray hair.

The study included a genome-wide association analysis of more than 6,000 Latin Americans to search for genes responsible for various hair and beard traits, including hair graying, baldness, beard thickness, mono-eyebrows, eyebrow thickness, etc.

The gene that was first identified as responsible for blonde hair in Europeans was also found to be responsible for gray hair, and was responsible for about 30% of the participants’ hair graying. The remaining 70% is certainly caused by factors such as age, environment, stress, etc.

For some people, this process is rapid, while for others it is slow, for decades. For example, white people are known to turn gray around the age of 35, while Asians generally do not turn gray until they are thirty. African Americans are generally gray at the age of 45.

Why else is our hair gray?

Here are some other factors that cause graying hair:

– Hydrogen peroxide: Hydrogen peroxide is a well-known hair bleaching product, but few people know that it is also produced by hair cells. As you age, the amount produced increases and scientists believe that it will eventually discolour the hair pigments, turn the hair gray and then turn white.

– Smoking: There is a significant relationship between smoking and graying hair. Smoking is also responsible for premature graying of the hair, which causes the first grays to appear before the age of 30.

– Oxidative stress: Oxidative stress can be defined as a condition in which your free radicals (from a polluted environment, poor diet, stress, etc.) outweigh your antioxidants (obtained from a healthy diet). Gray hair can be the result of oxidative stress. Research has also shown that people with premature gray hair have higher levels of pro-oxidants and lower levels of antioxidants than people without.

– Vitamin B12 deficiency: This is also a factor in premature graying of the hair and at least one case of return of hair pigmentation after correction of this deficiency has been reported.

Is Premature Hair Graying A Sign Of Health Problems?

The cause of premature graying is largely genetic. If some members of your family had early gray hair, chances are you too.

Obesity is also associated with premature graying and is suspected to be a telling symptom of other health problems. For example, premature graying of hair would be an important risk indicator of osteopenia, a bone disorder. According to a study published in the Journal of Metabolism and Clinical Endocrinology, people with early graying, but without other identifiable risk factors, were 4.4 times more likely to have osteopenia than people without graying.

Links have also been found between premature graying and thyroid disorders, anemia and vitiligo, and even with an increased risk of coronary artery disease in young smokers. Premature graying of hair can be considered by physicians as a first guide to identify a patient at risk for premature MAC, especially in smokers.

Does stress promote gray hair?

Stress is generally thought to cause gray hair (this could be confirmed by many parents of teenagers or former presidents, whose hair often turned gray when in office.) Science n No one ever found an explanation for this phenomenon until a 2011 study published in Nature magazine, conducted by Nobel Prize winner Dr. Robert Lefkowitz. This study has shown that chronic stress and frequent activation of the stress response cause DNA damage that can not only promote aging, cancer, neuropsychiatric conditions, but also affect hair pigment control genes.

* Presse Santé strives to impart health knowledge in a language accessible to all. IN NO EVENT can the information provided replace the advice of a healthcare professional.

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