Results from a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham has found that grey hair can be a result of an immune response in the body.
In their research, the scientists measured a decrease in melanin as a result of changes to the MITF gene due to an infection in the body. The MITF gene is responsible for correct functioning of melanin, which is the chemical that gives our skin, eyes and hair their colour.
Their analysis showed the MITF gene is also responsible for fighting off viral infections, and when there isn’t enough to affect both the infection and melanin, non-pigmented hair grows as a result.
“Perhaps, in an individual who is healthy yet predisposed for gray hair, getting an everyday viral infection is just enough to cause the decline of their melanocytes and melanocyte stem cells leading to premature gray hair,” said co-author Melissa Harris.
“This study highlights just one mechanism that helps us better understand biological contributions to the visible signs of aging.”
Going grey yourself? There’s a big silver lining to your changing hair. A 2017 Match.com study found that 72 per cent of women find a man with grey hair hot.
The overwhelming message from women surveyed: a styled salt-and-peppered look shows you’re a strong caretaker, and that you’re more distinguished and experienced than your peers.