American scientists believe that they have managed to discover the cause of graying of hair with increasing age. According to them, the phenomenon is due to the pigment cells in the hair follicles, which lose their ability to mature, and are thus no longer able to give the hair its natural color or shade. The discovery could help reverse the process completely, the BBC News server wrote.
Human hair grows and falls out all the time – it’s a normal cycle that repeats itself throughout life. New hair grows from hair follicles, which are found in the skin and which also house pigment-producing melanocytes. Melanocytes are also constantly breaking down and renewing themselves. New ones are created from stem cells, and it is these cells that are “stuck” in limbo in people whose hair has turned gray, according to scientists.
As hair ages, falls out, and then grows back repeatedly, an increasing number of stem cells begin to slow down. They stop moving around the follicle and become stationary, thus not maturing into full-fledged melanocytes. Without the formation of pigment, the hair turns gray, white or silver.
A team from New York University studied this process in mice that have the identical cells that determine their fur brow. If his findings are confirmed in humans, it would probably be possible to develop a way to prevent gray hair in the future.
According to the British Association of Dermatologists, work on melanocytes could also help people’s understanding and treatment of some cancers and other diseases.
This is not the first time that scientists have suggested that graying of hair could be a partially reversible process. One possible cause, according to earlier studies, is a poor diet. Some researchers also claim that stress can contribute to people’s hair turning white, and suggest that removing the causes of anxiety could restore the pigmentation process – at least for a while.
Other research suggests that genetics, or DNA, partly determines when people turn gray. While some people prefer to hide gray hair with paint, others embrace it. Some even decide to outrun nature and dye their hair silver, white or gray prematurely.
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