Monday, June 22, 2009

Grey Shield

Don't be ashamed of your old, grey head. Wear that silvery mane with pride! It means that your body is doing its best to protect you from cancer.

Haven't you ever wondered why old (and sometimes not-so-old... ahem!) people's hair turns grey? Here's how it works: color is pumped into your hair by cells called melanocytes. When old melanocytes die, the ever-popular stem cells produce yet more melanocytes, and your alluring hair color continues.

But as you walk around under the sun, get skull x-rays after the odd bungee-jumping accident, and other radioactive-type things, the DNA in those hard working stems cells gets damaged. Eventually, that could turn them into cancer cells. But rather than allowing that to happen the stem cells take a different tack: They turn themselves into melanocytes permanently, and die.

The result? Yes, grey hair. But also, fewer mutated cells that could go cancerous on you.

So chuck the Just For Men or Lady Clairol -- unless you're applying for a job with some unenlightened punk who doesn't know what he/she is loosing by rejecting applicants based on their silvery hair. Step outside and wave your hoary locks boldly in the soft summer sun.

Just be sure to put some sunblock on before you do.

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