I'm 17 and have started getting grey hair, is there anything I can do to stop it

01:00 Mon 15th Apr 2002 |

asks cleare17:
Grey hair is what happens when the colour pigment cells, found at the base of the hair follicle, stop forming due to changes in the melanin production. No-one knows exactly why this happens, but prematurely grey hair is often a genetic trait. If it happened to your parents, chances are it will happen to you.

Q. Can it be reversed
Not at the moment. However, a team of scientists are doing some research on the effects of glucose tyrosinate. This is a chemical made from tyrosine, an amino acid found naturally in the body, which becomes depleted with age. The scientists are trying to find out if it can be used to stimulate the production of pigment cells in order to continue making your hair's natural colour.

And, one day - in about ten years time - scientists may be able to isolate the gene that causes hair to lose its colour and reverse the greying process.

Q. Isn't there anything I can do
Well, some complementary therapists see premature greying as an outward sign that something is out of balance in the body, so you could try getting it back into balance again. Perhaps there is too much stress in your life, or you don't eat a healthy diet, or you smoke or drink too much. All these factors would prevent your body absorbing B vitamins properly, and the B vitamins are directly linked to hair colour and are needed to make pigmentation cells.

Q. So that means giving up a lot of things
Not so much giving up as creating a balance. Just cut down on meat and animal fats, and eat more carrots, celery, almonds, fruit and green vegetables. It wouldn't hurt to give up smoking - a 1996 study found a link between smoking and premature greying in both men and women.

Or I could just dye it...
You could, and you wouldn't be alone. There is a strong social pressure not to go grey. In the US, sales of male hair dyes tripled during the 1990s, and a US business survey showed that people with grey hair are seen as less capable, less energetic and even less broad-minded!!

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