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Researchers say they have identified a gene that can predict if you will have gray hair. The gene IRF4 was found and studied from the genetic codes of more than 6,300 people from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru. The group included people of mixed European, Native American and African ancestries. The IRF4 gene controls melanin production, which is responsible for the color of hair, skin and eyes. Andres Ruiz-Linares is a professor of human genetics at University College London. He is the paper’s lead author. He and his team identified a special gene found in about 15% of people with European ancestry. The people who carry this gene are more likely to have early gray hair. The researchers found that Native Americans do not carry this gene. The researchers say that gray hair is not influenced just by genetics. Stress or a terrible event can also contribute to a gray head of hair. The researchers say this study could be helpful to developers of hair care products. It could lead to treatments that may prevent or reverse the process that turns hair gray. The study also identified genes for other hair qualities. These included curly hair, beard and eyebrow thickness. Ruiz-Linares says linking genes to hair qualities is important. He says it could lead to better analysis of genetic information collected at crime scenes. The journal Nature Communications published the study.