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Today I learned that hair turns grey with age because of naturally-secreted hydrogen peroxide. Guess blondes were onto something. Good to know someone is finally getting at the "root" of the problem.


Researchers have discovered that hair turns grey with age because a natural build-up of hydrogen peroxide hinders the synthesis of melanin, our hair's natural pigment.

Their research, published online in The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal (FASEB), provides for the first time a molecular explanation of why people face grey hair in old age - and could even lead to a way of preventing it.

"Not only blondes change their hair colour with hydrogen peroxide," said Gerald Weissmann, The FASEB Journal's editor-in-chief. "All of our hair cells make a tiny bit of hydrogen peroxide, but as we get older, this little bit becomes a lot. We bleach our hair pigment from within, and our hair turns grey then white.

...Hydrogen peroxide, a known bleaching agent that is a by-product of metabolism, is found in normal hair at very small concentrations. The researchers showed that in ageing hair, hydrogen peroxide accumulates due to a lack of the enzyme responsible for breaking it down.

This build-up spells trouble for a hair follicle. Hydrogen peroxide attacks an enzyme called tyrosinase, which starts the production of melanin. The researchers showed that tyrosinase, and therefore melanin synthesis, is disabled when hydrogen peroxide oxidises a key amino acid on the enzyme.

Natural bleach-job: why hair turns grey

What did you learn recently?


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Mar 15, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=501

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