Health and Fitness

Stay Stress-Free This Year, Because Science Says Gray Hair Caused By Stress is Serious and Permanent

Gray hair might be a sign you need to meditate more.
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White hair in your 30s isn’t just genetic. It’s also because of stress. We’ve all heard the saying that stress causes white hair, and you can put it aside as an old wives’ tale, but it won’t make it any less true.

According to scientists from the University of Sao Paulo and Harvard University, color damage caused by stress is serious—and permanent.

In an experiment with lab mice, dark-furred mice with stress-damaged stem cells turned completely white within weeks. It shocked the researchers, who discovered that stress had caused all the pigment-regenerating stem cells to be lost, concluding that damage (like white hair) caused by stress is permanent.

"I expected stress was bad for the body," said Harvard professor Ya-Cieh Hsu. "But the detrimental impact of stress that we discovered was beyond what I imagined.”

The researchers were able to pinpoint the protein involved in causing damage to stem cells, and thus your hair color, from stress. An anti-hypertensive, used to treat high blood pressure, was given to one group of mice, allowing the scientists to identify that when the protein, cyclin-dependent kinase, was suppressed, treatment could stop mice fur from turning white.

Their study will be used to discover treatments to delay the onset of gray hair, but it’s also proved just how underrated the negative impact of stress can be on your body. In a culture that romanticizes stress and overworking, you might want to lighten your load and stay stress-free this year, unless you want to go completely and prematurely gray.

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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