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Why hair goes gray

Posted Sep 23 2010 7:01pm
By Michelle Stoffel, Chicago Tribune


No, your demanding job or rambunctious toddler isn't the reason you may be developing gray hair.

It's actually caused by a massive build up of hydrogen peroxide, due to a reduction of catalase, an enzyme that breaks up hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, according a study published in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Journal.

This excessive peroxide then blocks the normal synthesis of melanin, our hair's natural pigment.

"All of our hair cells make a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide, but as we get older, this little bit becomes a lot," said  Gerald Weissmann, editor of  the FASEB Journal, in a press release. We bleach our hair pigment from within, and our hair turns gray and then white."

The influx of peroxide and reduction of catalase are caused by wear and tear of hair follicles. But so far, researchers can't tell us how to prevent those hairs of wisdom.

Do you color yours to hide gray hairs? Why or why not?

Tribune file photo

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