Gray hair is an inevitable fact of life as people get older. People try to cover their gray hair with a variety of different methods, but in the end most people accept the inevitable. There has always been some mystery and uncertainty about why people turn gray, as well as some outlandish theories about how to reverse the process. However, with a recent discovery scientists think they have unlocked the mystery of what makes hair turn gray. Read on to find out.
What causes gray hair?
Scientists have known for a long time that both melanocyte stem cells and hair follicle stem cells play a part in producing the natural color of hair. Basically the hair follicle stem cells produce melanocytes, which then produce and store the pigment (melanin) that provides your hair color. When this system breaks down it causes gray hair. What wasn’t known was why the system breaks down. However, the recent discovery shows that Wnt signaling pathways (a special network of proteins) enable the two different stem cells to work together. If this system breaks down it prevents the melanocyte stem cells from activating which causes gray hair.
The following reasons have been suggested as causes for gray hair, but each claim is not likely to be the sole reason that hair turns gray.
Age – Aging is believed to be the main reason that the pigment producing stem cells stop working.
Genetics – Some people are believed to be susceptible to premature aging.
Anemia – Some people believe that this disorder can cause gray hair.
Stress – This cause of gray hair is widely known and believed by the general population, but probably doesn’t play a large role in the graying process.
Thyroid Imbalance – This is often a cause of premature gray hair.