The study did not investigate the causes of, or possible treatments of, grey hair. However, the research focused on vitiligo, specifically looking at segmental vitiligo (NHS, 2013).
The NHS went further by saying that:
Though the blame for the poor reporting of the study can be put at the door of the press office of the FASEB, which issued a press release almost entirely focused on the grey hair angle. This is a textbook example of public relations officers ‘sexing up’ a dry but worthy piece of research in order to gain maximum media coverage. And – credit where credit is due – they did an excellent job of that. Unfortunately, in doing so they obscured the truth.
Whether peer-reviewed journals should be engaging in these types of disingenuous practises, which arguably damage the public understanding of science, is a matter of debate. However, FASEB are not alone in this, as recent research found that academics, journals and news reporters all share the blame for the spin found in around half of all medical reporting. (NHS, 2013).
What the NHS was reporting on was that there were a number of newspaper articles in 2013 talking about a 2013 study by one of the researchers in the 2009 study (Karin U. Schallreuter) - Schallreuter et al. (2013). Strangely enough, looking at the 2009 study, they also tested the theory on vitiligo patients.
By analogy, we turned to vitiligo, a depigmentation disorder, as this model could hold lessons for a better understanding of the graying process (Wood et al. 2009).
In explaining the problem, the NHS points out that:
Vitiligo can be divided into two forms: segmental and nonsegmental vitiligo. Nonsegmental vitiligo is the more common, in which the white patches that appear are symmetrical (the same places on both sides of the body, for example both hands could be affected). In nonsegmental vitiligo, two chemicals – hydrogen peroxide and peroxynitrite – accumulate in the skin.
Nonsegmental vitiligo can be treated with a pseudocatalase, which is activated by narrow-band UVB light. This reduces the concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, allowing the lost skin colour to return.
In the less common segmental form of vitiligo, the affected skin lies in a dermatome, which is a particular area of skin supplied by a single nerve, so it usually affects only one side of the body.
Segmental and non-segmental vitiligo can also co-exist, giving rise to ‘mixed’ vitiligo.
This study aimed to see whether the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide and peroxynitrite which occurs in nonsegmental vitiligo also occurs in segmental vitiligo, and if so, if the light activated pseudocatalase could also be of use in segmental vitiligo.
The bottom line is that, as far as I have seen, it has not been proven whether the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide is the cause of grey hair or not.
NHS (2013). No evidence of cure to prevent hair going grey. Retrieved from: https://www.nhs.uk/news/medication/no-evidence-of-cure-to-prevent-hair-going-grey/
Schallreuter, K. U., Salem, M. A., Holtz, S., & Panske, A. (2013). Basic evidence for epidermal H2O2/ONOO−-mediated oxidation/nitration in segmental vitiligo is supported by repigmentation of skin and eyelashes after reduction of epidermal H2O2 with topical NB-UVB-activated pseudocatalase PC-KUS. The FASEB Journal, 27(8), 3113-3122. doi: 10.1096/fj.12-226779
Wood, J. M., Decker, H., Hartmann, H., Chavan, B., Rokos, H., Spencer, J. D., ... & Schallreuter, K. U. (2009). Senile hair graying: H2O2-mediated oxidative stress affects human hair color by blunting methionine sulfoxide repair. The FASEB Journal, 23(7), 2065-2075. doi: 10.1096/fj.08-125435