Another reason not to stress

New research suggests that stress may really cause grey hair.

Many people, myself included, used to think that the notion of stress causing grey hair was an old wives tale. However, it may be fact. There is science to back up the assertion that some believed to be true before there was science to support it. Thus, giving us one more reason to reduce stress and stay grounded.

Michigan State University Extension says that t­­­he average person starts to grey from the age of 25 through the rest of their life. Different factors, such as genetics, lifestyle, the environment, consuming too much alcohol and smoking cigarettes are believed to influence the rate at which one turns grey. We now know that stress also influences the process. A May 2013 study published in Nature Medicine Magazine found that when exposed to an excessive amount of stress hormones, the cells that give hair its color migrate to the skin. The findings also suggest that once the cells are gone, they do not return – therefore, leaving the hair permanently grey.

The study was conducted on mice with the foundational belief that when the body is injured, the skin cells responsible for producing melanin move from the hair follicle to other parts of the body, primarily the skin, in order to limit the damage from injury. In the mice, this process occurred when they were exposed to excessive amounts of stress hormones, such as cortisol. The study stated that this process may be the same reason why the skin appears darker when an individual is stressed.

The lesson here seems to be that we should not stress about going grey, or for that matter too much else. This study supports what scientists have known for some time, stress is not simply just a state of mind, but can cause real physical damage.

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