Grey Hair and Hair Loss: Are They Related?

If you have ever wondered whether greying hair and losing hair are related, the short answer is yes, they are. A cancer researcher in Texas has discovered by accident that, in fact, they are closely related, in mice at least.

While studying tumor growth and development, Dr. Lu Le found that a protein called Krox20 not only affects tumor growth but also turns on and off skin cells that form hair shafts. When these skin cells turn into hair shafts, the cells produce another protein called SCF or Stem Cell Factor, which is necessary for hair color.

When scientists deleted the Krox20 protein cells, the mice didn’t have any skin cells turn into hair shafts, and their hair all fell out. When the scientists deleted the SCF protein cells from the skin cells, the mice couldn’t form color in their hair cells, so all their hair turned grey and then white.

A woman laying on a white surface with her hair on the side - the hair is making the shape of a heart

Gray hair is different than normal hair due to loss of pigmentation (melanin)

Gray hair is slightly different to normal hair as gray hairs signify that melanin production in the hair follicles has either been damaged or have completely died out due to age. Although the gray hair due to aging is almost unavoidable, gray hair from being damaged can be reversed - almost.

Lifestyle could impact gray hair

Stress can cause a lot of damage. Disrupting and interfering with many systems that keep your body running like a machine, unregulated stress can lead to gray hair. A response from the nervous system that is sent out when your body is under stress activates the cells that create melanin in your hair follicle prematurely. They then migrate away from the hair follicle since they aren't being used in the hair growth process, meaning that there is less melanin going towards new hair - turning your hair gray, and potentially all the way white. Depending on the severity of the stress on your body, the damage to your melanocytes can be permanent and no new hair with pigments will grow. However, all hope isn't lost. Research has shown that gray hair caused by stress can be reversed, with some conditions. Gray hair has a certain point where once crossed, you can't go back to pigmented hair. If your hair is below this threshold, and stress has caused it to gray, the color of your hair will return. Once you have gray hair, especially if you've had it for quite some time, then it's impossible to bring color back into your hair.

Smoking may lead to gray hair

Otherwise known as Smoker's Hair, there is a link between your hair turning gray before 30 and smoking cigarettes. Smoking can cause a myriad of problems throughout the body that can lead to gray hair. Smoking can cause damage to arteries that can block essential nutrients from reaching your hair follicles and subsequently the melanocytes cells which are responsible for the creation of melanin - the pigment in your hair.

Diet may lead to gray hair

In the same way that smoking can cause gray hair, an unbalanced diet can cause the same effect. Vitamin A is required for a variety of functions in your body - including the production of melanin which as we mentioned is the pigment that dyes your hair. Luckily, many foods contain vitamin A, so the risk of you eating a diet that has no vitamin A is rare, but also too much vitamin A can also be bad. Eating a balanced diet with the right nutrients and minerals is perfect to help prevent gray hair caused by a deficiency in vitamins.

Why is only my gray hair falling out?

Your gray hair signifies that there is an imbalance of hormones be it by diet, lifestyle habits, stress or aging. This imbalance can cause your gray hair to fall out as your hair follicles are not producing at the same capacity. This may cause your hair follicles to transition into phases it shouldn't be in, like fit your body experiences a little too much stress, and cause the your body's hair growth cycle to be off. This can lead to your gray hair to fall off as new hair is attempting to grow where hair is already there. Paired with the fact that gray hair is usually weaker than normal hair, you'll see a lot of shedding of gray hair.

Grow your hair with Capillus

This is an interesting discovery. Krox20 and SCF are not the only reasons that hair falls out or turns grey/white, but they are definitely one of the reasons.

We know that what happens to your hair as you age is related to many factors in the environment as well as your genetic makeup. Where you live, how you live, how you eat, and what stressors you have in your life also contribute to the health of your hair.

So, while Dr. Lu is trying to find a topical cure for hair greying and hair loss, concentrate on the things you can do to help yourself. Get enough nutrients, massage your scalp, eat pumpkin and pumpkin seeds, don’t wear tight-fitting hats, and use some of our FDA-cleared products to help regrow your hair, like our laser caps.

If you suffer from hair loss, rest assured you are not alone. Millions of men and women battle hair loss worldwide. At Capillus, we are here to help patients find a physician and a hair loss treatment that works for them. To find a licensed hair loss expert near you, visit our Capillus physician finder online. Readers are also invited to browse our collection of clinical strength hair care products. For product inquiries and order assistance, please call customer service at 1-844-280-4680.