Health

Grey hair and Cancer


Are you dismayed each time a grey hair appears in the mirror? Well here’s a very good reason to be happy instead: a Japanese study suggests the greying process may provide cancer protection.


The root, so to speak, of the research is this: With age, potentially dangerous colour-producing stem cells called melanocytes die off in hair follicles. DNA damage increases in these cells as people age, but grey hair means the melanocytes have gone and so can’t pass on cancer-causing mutations.

Researchers say this does not mean grey-haired people have a lower risk of developing melanoma or other cancers. As people age, DNA damage accumulates.

Dr. David Fisher, director of the melanoma program at Harvard Medical School, believes these show possibilities for future cancer treatments.

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