Korea - Greying hair is typically regarded as an indicator of senility, but new study suggested it may actually be a sign of health, according to a report on Livescience.com.
Researchers from Museo Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Spain recently found that some wild boars with reddish furs tend to be more vulnerable to cell damage.
Red fur points to abundant pheomelanin, a pigment that produces colour in fur. Scientists found that more pheomelanin boars have, more likely they are to lack glutathione, an antioxidant. Study researcher Ismael Galvan said the lack of antioxide makes the animals more susceptible to oxidative stress.
On the other hand, boars with grey fur have less pheomelanin in their hair, and are comparatively healthier. 'We found that boars showing grey hair were actually those in prime condition and with the lowest levels of oxidative damage,' said Dr Galvan. 'Far from being a sign of age-related decline, hair greying seems to indicate good condition in wild boars.'
Since all higher vertebrates share the same type of melanin in skin and hair, the finding is significant in understanding the process of greying hair in humans.
But scientists are cautious about the meaning of grey hair, as past studies have suggested that it may be a symptom of cellular stress.
A couple of years ago, researchers from Kanazawa University in Japan allegedly found that genotoxic stress reduces the melanocyte stem cells responsible for making the pigment-producing cells that give hair its colour.