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Identifying and Inhibiting the Gray Hair Gene

By Greg Bridges, RN, MA, 9:00 am on

For many people, gray hair has been an unavoidable symptom of the ageing process. However, this may not be true for future generations of seniors and Oklahoma at-home care providers. Scientists have recently identified the gene they believe to be responsible for gray hair, and therapies could be in the works to delay or prevent the graying process.

Gray Hair Gene Identified

A team of researchers led by University College-London recently conducted a study that examined the genes of over 6,000 people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. The wide scale of this study enabled them to successfully identify the primary gene believed to be responsible for why hair turns gray. The gene, IRF4, has always been known to affect hair color, but this study is the first in which a definitive connection was made to hair graying.

Hair gets its color from a pigment produced in cells called melanocytes, which are located in the hair follicle. As people age, production of this particular pigment stops and causes hair to turn gray, silver, or white. While environmental factors also play a role in this process, scientists now believe IRF4 has a significant impact as well.

Implications for Seniors

Scientists hope to use this research to develop cosmetic therapies that can delay or stop the graying process altogether. While such a treatment is still many years away, this discovery is a promising start that researchers are confident they will be able to build upon. Many people see gray hair as a distinguished sign of advanced age. However, for many others it can be a source of anxiety, stress, and fear, especially in our youth-obsessed culture. A treatment to stop the process may aid in improving the emotional health of seniors who struggle with ageing. While it is still several years away, scientists may be able to develop treatments to slow or stop the process of hair graying thanks to a recent new discovery.

While looking young is part of what makes aging easier, feeling young is what makes all the difference. With help from Home Care Assistance of Oklahoma, seniors get the help they need around the house to fully enjoy their golden years while maintaining independence and self-esteem. In addition to promoting wellness and longevity, we provide comprehensive Alzheimer’s, stroke, and dementia care Oklahoma seniors need to overcome challenges associated with age, illness, and injury. Contact a knowledgeable Care Manager at 405-285-4191 today to schedule a free in-home consultation.