Identifying the Cause of Gray Hair

What Causes Gray Hair and Can it be Stopped?

By Will Reid, 9:00 am on

Gray hair has long been viewed by Cincinnati home care agencies as a natural and unavoidable part of the aging process. While some people think gray hair makes them appear wise and distinguished, for many others, this process invokes fear and anxiety about the impacts on their careers, relationships, and emotional health. However, a recent study uncovered a promising new link that may help slow or prevent the graying process.

Why Does Hair Turn Gray?

Hair gets its color from a pigment produced in cells called melanocytes. These cells are located at the root of the hair in the follicle. As we age, these cells stop producing this pigment, called melanin, and hair loses its color. While environmental factors, habits such as smoking and poor nutrition, and health conditions like iron deficiency and thyroid problems may contribute to graying, scientists believe it is primarily caused by genetic factors. Individuals whose parents have gray hair and those of European descent are the most likely to go gray themselves.

Recent Discovery Identifies Gray Gene

Scientists at Britain’s University College-London believe they have identified the primary gene responsible for signaling the body to cease its production of melanin. They studied over 6,000 people from a myriad of ethnic backgrounds, the largest of this type of study to date, and found that IRF4 may be the specific gene and primary culprit in the graying process. Several other genes were also identified that play a role in and contribute to the texture and appearance of hair. Researchers believe that this discovery will enable them to develop cosmetic therapies to turn off this gene and effectively slow or completely prevent the graying process. This study has significant implications for senior citizens and others concerned about the inevitable process of going gray. While still many years away, therapies could soon be in the works that could inhibit the genetic causes of gray hair.

Of course, looking young is only half the battle in terms of senior wellness and longevity. With help from Home Care Assistance, seniors can get the assistance they need to manage physical and cognitive illness brought on by aging. We provide premier stroke, dementia, and Alzheimer’s elderly care in Cincinnati to help seniors manage their disease with confidence while maintaining overall wellbeing in the comfort of home. Contact us today at 513.891.2273 to learn more and schedule a no-obligation consultation.