A pill for grey hair?

Posted on January 10, 2012


(Image: Wikipedia)

Dateline: 3 October 2011 // Posted by: xoxo Gossip Girl

Source: Daily Mail

Story: “Once-a-day pill means you will never have to go grey”

Summary: Scientists with beauty giant L’Oreal believe that a pill containing extracts from an unnamed fruit could prevent the onset of grey hair. They intend to design a pill containing this plant extracts which would be widely available to be taken as an inexpensive daily supplement, ideally before the onset of grey hair for optimum results. According to the article, “Grey hairs usually begin to appear after the age of 30, when human hair cells begin to succumb to a process called oxidative stress, which makes  them more susceptible to toxins.”

Grey hairs appear as the pigment dies due to the lack of tyrosinase-related protein 2 (TRP-2), a protective enzyme. Scientists have decided that rather than synthesizing a drug to mimic TRP-2 they would try to find the substance occurring naturally which they claim to have done in an unnamed fruit. Scientists say that it will be difficult to see just how effective the treatment is in the near future because of the length of time it takes for the hair to turn grey.

Why is this PseudoNews? Scientifically, experts suggest that it doesn’t seem plausible that plant extracts could prevent the greying of hair in the future. For example, Professor Des Tobin of Bradford University’s Centre for Skin Science (the first to grow human hair pigment cells in a laboratory) has stated that “It’s not clear if replacing the enzyme really is the answer.”

The article suggests that both men and women are ‘dying’ to keep their hair their own natural color and would be upset upon the arrival of that first grey hairs’ premiere. There is also the matter of the presence of TRP-2 in the skin and eyes which would also be effected by the consumption of an increased amount of this substance which could potentially damage other regions of the body, and for what? It is hard to believe that this product could be on the shelves in 2013 given the huge potential for health complications.

What features of pseudoscience are on show? There are many significant reasons why this article is PseudoNews. There is vagueness in the measurability of this proposed product. People grey at different ages and rates and genes have a notable role to play in the deterioration of pigment in the hair. One of the main features of Pseudoscientific claims is that if it is unproven to be false, this automatically makes its claim true. There has been no real testing done on this product to show whether or not, this pill will be effective but it is being represented as greatly effective because it has not been shown to be false. There is a lack of parsimony in the claims made about how plant extracts can prevent the onset of grey hair, something which we have come to believe is an inevitable part of the aging process.

The moral of the story: It is important to keep in mind that because something is presented scientifically, it does not give it scientific status. The use of strong science-based words can sometimes trick people into believing what is none other than PseudoNews.