According to a new study and Dr Gerald Weissmann, the editor of The Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology and research professor of medicine at New York University, the cause of grey hair might have been discovered.
Our hair cells naturally produce minimal amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Anyone who has ever gone blonde knows what hydrogen peroxide can do – it zaps the colour out of whatever it touches. To counter this, our bodies normally produce an enzyme that neutralises the hydrogen peroxide before it can bleach the hair. However, as we get older, we make less of the enzyme and the hydrogen peroxide builds up until it affects the pigment of the hair, leaving us with grey hair.
According to Weissmann, there are antioxidants that can neutralise the hydrogen peroxide, but we presently have no effective way of getting those antioxidants into the deep layers of the hair. It is “exciting” to have made this discovery, he says. Now that we know the cause, researchers have a place to begin and they can come up with a way to get the antioxidants into the hair where they can break down the hydrogen peroxide. And that might mean the end of grey hair!