Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Stress Turns Your Hair Grey

Can this common folklore be true after all? If it is, and you do not like your hair to be grey, you will have to stop stressing yourself out.

People develop grey hair as they age but the real cause of the colour change is stress, researchers said.

If people experienced less stress, they might keep the colour of their natural locks longer.

Stress actually damages DNA and depletes the melanocyte stem cells within hair follicles that are responsible for making the pigment-producing cells. The depletion leads to irreversible hair greying, said Dr Emi Nishimura of Kanazawa University in Japan, the lead researcher of the study which was published last month in the journal Cell.

Using mice, the researchers also showed that a “caretaker” gene called ATM serves as a checkpoint to protect against melanocyte stem cell changes. That is why people with an ageing syndrome called ataxia-telangiectasia, which is caused by a mutation in the ATM gene, go grey prematurely.

Grey hair is one of the most obvious signs of ageing. However, changes to other body stem cells have been reported and it appears stress on the stem cell pool and maintenance failures in the function of cells are strongly linked to accelerated ageing.

It is not clear though whether anything can be done to stop these processes – at least not yet.

- Los Angeles Times 

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