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Grey Hair May Fight Off Cancer

Grey Hair May Fight Off Cancer

Grey hair may help protect us from cancer…

While grey hairs are usually unwelcome, new research suggests they may actually help protect the body from cancer.

The cells that give hair its color are called melanocytes. These cells produce the pigments their numbers are kept topped up by stem cells. Hair goes grey when the number of stem cells in hair follicles declines.

Grey Hair May Help Fight Off Cancer

Emi Nishimura of Tokyo Medical and Dental University, Japan, and his colleagues have found what causes this decline in mice.

When the researchers exposed mice to radiation and chemicals that harm DNA, damaged stem cells transformed permanently into melanocytes. With less stem cells to replenish them, the number of melanocytes declined.

The mice also went grey. Nishimura’s team proposes that this same process leads to a reduce number of stem cells in older people – especially as DNA damage accumulates as we age.

David Fisher, a cancer researcher at Harvard Medical School, suggests such processes may help protect us from cancer, by discouraging the proliferation of stem cells with damaged DNA, which could pass on mutations.

“One likely beneficial effect is the removal of potentially dangerous cells that may contain pre-cancerous capabilities,”

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