New Study Finds The Gene Linked To Graying Hair In New Study

Millions of women, and many men, go to serious lengths to disguise their graying hair, which is viewed very negatively by society, even though graying can begin as early as one’s twenties. Indeed, most women experiment with at least three hair colors during their lifetimes, often to disguise stray grays. It has never been clear why some people gray earlier, or more than others.

But for the first time, scientists have identified a gene that could be behind graying hair.

An analysis of DNA from more than 6,300 people in five Latin American countries enabled researchers to pinpoint a gene that directly affects a person’s likelihood of having gray hair.

The gene is involved with regulating melanin, which is the pigment responsible for eye, skin and hair color.

Dubbed IRF4, people with a certain version of this gene are naturally predisposed to hair graying, according to one of the researchers in the study, University College London human geneticist Andres Ruiz-Linares.

The researchers clarified that genetics do not exclusively drive hair graying. Other factors, such as stress or experiencing a traumatic event, can affect the onset or rate of graying.

They also note that this study and further research on this gene could offer solutions for preventing or reversing graying.

The gene variant predisposing people to early hair graying was almost exclusively seen in those of European ancestry, which might help to explain why graying is more common in Europeans than in other populations.

The study also identified genes related to other hair traits, like curliness, beard thickness, eyebrow thickness and predisposition for eyebrows that join together.

Despite the social significance of a discovery that could affect the massive industry surrounding hair dyeing, one of the researchers, Desomnd Tobin, commented that, “Personally I don’t have much of a view regarding the social response to hair graying, but I find it an interesting model to study aging in general.”