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Author Topic: Why do we grow white hair?  (Read 4094 times)

Offline The Scientist

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Why do we grow white hair?
« on: 16/11/2010 14:20:09 »
At what age can you start growing white hair? And why does it happen? Is there a way to prevent or stop it? THANKS!


 

SteveFish

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Why do we grow white hair?
« Reply #1 on: 16/11/2010 15:56:40 »
There are a few high school students who are well on the way to having gray hair, and some elders in their 70s who still have a lot of hair pigment. I don't think the mechanism is completely understood, but it involves the melanocytes that inject the various melanins into head hair that stop functioning in an age related manner.

Asking "why" this happens opens a very difficult puzzle. The most common answer is that gray hair is a signal of an elder who may have, because of a life that spans generations, special survival knowledge. Graying in elderly silver back male gorillas is an interesting primate analog.

Because gray hair and balding get a lot of attention in our youth focused society, there is probably fairly active applied research being done by drug companies with the goal of finding a salable fix. Because I enjoy human variability, I think fixing this "problem" would be a detriment. Steve
 

Offline maffsolo

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Why do we grow white hair?
« Reply #2 on: 16/11/2010 17:54:47 »
A drug that will keep you looking young is something like the story of Ponce Deleone in the quest of finding that fountain of youth.
Many individuals like to stay young and that walks hand in hand with looks, if it is of all possible. I do not see the harm in that.

I have heard that besides aging, getting scared out of you skin can get the hair to turn gray.
Is it the physical and emotional shock that causes these glands to get corrupted?
« Last Edit: 16/11/2010 17:56:48 by maffsolo »
 

SteveFish

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Why do we grow white hair?
« Reply #3 on: 17/11/2010 00:44:35 »
Maffsolo, your hair will not turn gray if you are frightened. This is an untrue legend. A specific skin cell type, melanocytes, only in the hair follicles of the head stop functioning as one gets older. All of the other melanocytes in the body continue to make melanin, so this change in head hair is very specific and is probably not related to any gland (e.g. pituitary). Steve
 

Offline Geezer

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Why do we grow white hair?
« Reply #4 on: 17/11/2010 08:16:46 »
Maffsolo, your hair will not turn gray if you are frightened. This is an untrue legend. A specific skin cell type, melanocytes, only in the hair follicles of the head stop functioning as one gets older. All of the other melanocytes in the body continue to make melanin, so this change in head hair is very specific and is probably not related to any gland (e.g. pituitary). Steve

Steve's right you know. I have been frightened quite a bit and I'm a lot older than I care to admit, but I've got hardly any white hair. It is, as they say, just your Donald Duck.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Why do we grow white hair?
« Reply #4 on: 17/11/2010 08:16:46 »

 

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