Sometimes we tend to accept greying hair as inevitable and in today’s society – luckily for most of us – there is a fashionable culture that holds on to the premise that rather than it being bad for presentation it actually enhances our looks as we get older. It sends messages of maturity, depth of character and wisdom.
Greying hair can be psychologically detrimental
However as much as most people are able to style their greying hair to appear in vogue the problem is more psychological and introspective. Firstly, the initial grey hairs are a sign we are aging and therefore letting go of our youthful years. These thoughts can change our whole attitude to how we see ourselves, how we participate in work and social activities and how we see our futures. Secondly, it is a red light to those around us that we are getting older too. Our age is one fact in life we tend to keep secret in western culture because we worship youth. So as much as we make the best of the changing tones in our hair we are also aware people are probably looking at us in a different way.
Reasons for greying hair
So why do some people go grey before others? Well, the greying of hair very much mirrors the same reasons why we suffer from hair loss. Aging of course is the primary reason, but stress can also play a role. When the mind is under stress, it will have a parallel effect on your body. Your body’s functions will not work so well in its attempts to refresh and heal. Lifestyle can also have an effect. For instance, smoking stresses skin and hair and low vitamin B12 levels are notorious for causing loss of hair pigment.
But for some time scientists have been aware there is a factor much more central to an individual’s DNA which may make the probability of greying hair more likely. For example, people form diverse ethnic groups are more likely to grey than others. Caucasians tend to go grey earlier – and redheads earliest of all. Next on the list are Asians and then African-Americans.
The above statistics is one of the reasons researchers have been exploring further into whether genes play a part in greying hair. A study that appeared in the Bio News has identified a genetic variant through a genome-wide association study. Results suggest that the gene plays a role in regulating melanin – the pigment which determines hair colour amongst other things. Grey hair is caused by the loss of the pigment.
Lead author of the study, Dr Adhikari of the University College London said “We already know several genes involved in balding and hair colour, but this is the first time a gene for greying has been identified in humans”.
Bear in mind research is in its early stages but in determining why you are greying it may also be worth looking to your parents.
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