As A Sign Of Aging, Does Stress Cause Grey Hair?


To manage your healthy life is quite important and stress is a physical or emotional tension to your health.

That been said, it has been debated if stress causes grey hair or it is purely genetical, well here at Scholarsark, we do have the right answer for you.

Does Stress Cause Grey Hair?

Stress may play a key role in how quickly hair goes from dyed to grey.

Scientists have long understood that there is some connection between stress and gray hair, but a study from Harvard University in Massachusetts explores the exact mechanisms at play more deeply.

The researchers’ initial tests closely examined cortisol, the “stress hormone,” which surges in the body when a person experiences a “fight-or-flight” response.

It’s an important bodily function, but the long-term presence of elevated cortisol levels is associated with many negative health consequences.

But the culprit turned out to be another part of the body’s “fight or flight” response: the sympathetic nervous system.

These nerves are located throughout the body, including in every hair follicle, the researchers report.

Chemicals released during the stress response – particularly norepinephrine – cause pigment-producing stem cells to activate prematurely, depleting hair color “stores.”

“The adverse effects of stress that we discovered surpassed all my ideas,” said Ya-Chieh Hsu, Ph.D., lead author of the study and associate professor of stem cells and regenerative biology at Harvard University, in a press release. “In just a few days, all the pigment-regenerating stem cells were lost. Once they are gone, you can no longer regenerate pigments.” The damage is irreversible.”

However, stress is not the only or even the main reason why most people have grey hair.

In most cases, it is simple genetics.

“Gray hair” is caused by the loss of melanocytes (pigment cells) in the hair follicle. It happens as we get older and, unfortunately, there is no treatment that can restore these cells and the pigment they produce, melanin,” said Dr. Lindsay A. Bordone, a dermatologist at ColumbiaDoctors and assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, told Healthline.

“Genetic factors determine when you go gray. There’s nothing you can do medically to prevent it when it’s genetically predetermined.”

This is not to say that environmental factors such as stress play no role.

Smoking, for example, is a known risk factor for premature graying, according to a 2013 study. So get rid of that habit if you want that color to stay a little longer.

Other factors that contribute to premature graying include deficiencies in protein, vitamin B-12, copper and iron, as well as aging caused in part by the accumulation of oxidative stress.

This stress is caused by an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body, which can damage tissues, proteins and DNA, Casey Nichols, NMD, an Arizona physician and health expert at Rave Reviews, told Healthline.

And some degree of oxidative stress is a natural part of life.

“We expect more gray hair as we get older, and we see the chance of developing gray hair increasing about 10 percent every decade after age 30,” Nichols said.

“Changes you can make to delay premature graying include eating a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts and oily fish, not spending too much time in ultraviolet sunlight that damages skin and hair, and taking vitamin B-12 and vitamin B-6 supplements.

That said, if you’re turning grey prematurely, it doesn’t hurt to get tested in case more than just natural genetic factors are to blame.


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