Workaholics beware: a new study by Columbia University confirms the long withstanding belief that stress turns your hair grey. While this concept is not a new one, the study goes on to explain the significance of this evidence in relation to how we age, with the study’s senior author Martin Picard, PhD stating “Our data adds to a growing body of evidence demonstrating that human aging is not a linear, fixed biological process but may, at least in part, be halted or even temporarily reversed.”
We know what you’re thinking: how can aging be reversed? Using 14 volunteers, Picard’s research team found that removing the stressor can cause greying hairs to regrow in their original pigment. The subjects’ hair follicles were split and inspected under a microscope and correlated with stress journals. Picard likens the process to that of cutting down a tree to reveal its age via the rings in the stump, as hair follicles are layered in a similar way.
This stress-induced pigment loss is primarily a concern for those in middle age, as natural aging factors combined with stress can push hair over the “greying threshold”. The study cites that individuals in their 70’s or older would most likely not see a change in their greying hairs, as natural aging still takes precedence over environmental factors like stress. In the same realm, a 10-20 year old individual is not likely to develop grey hairs due to an increase in stress.
The discovery that signs of aging can be temporarily reversed and halted has been widely researched in recent years, and the evidence from studies like this one are showing that there’s more to getting older than the passing of time.
Decreasing stress in your environment is a sure way to slow aging, and a well-timed vacation might just be the remedy to greying hair, “There was one individual who went on vacation, and five hairs on that person’s head reverted back to dark during the vacation, synchronized in time,” Picard states to Neuroscience News.