What Really Turns Hair Gray?

Scientists have discovered why our hair turns gray as we become older, according to a report in the Federation of the American Societies of Experimental Biology Journal (FASEBJ).

Over the course of a lifetime, human hair follicles slowly produces hydrogen peroxide. As the follicles age, our capacity to break down this bleach diminishes because we have been exposed to oxygen.

“Our bodies age the same way a photograph ages,” Dr . Gerald Weismann, a research professor of medicine at New York University and editor of FASEBJ, told FOXNews.com. “Hydrogen peroxide does to our hair — and the rest of our body — what sunlight does to photos and furniture that have been left out in the sun.”

As a person becomes older, hair eventually loses its color – so at some point in time, everyone’s hair turns gray.

But due to genetics, some people start to go gray earlier than others.

“We’ve found that Asians turn gray at a much slower rate than Caucasians,” Weissmann said.

Gray hair is a side-effect of living longer, Weissmann said, because humans were initially meant to live only long enough to reproduce and pass on their DNA.

He said people who have gray hair may want to see it as a sign of good health.

“Chemistry is so well-understood that there are ways of overcoming (graying), by making chemicals to rub on their scalp,” Weissmann said. “That’s in the future.”

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