Most of us have noticed an increase in those beautiful little silver highlights by the time we turn 40. We wonder if it's work, or diet, or lifestyle (...pass me that beer, will ya?), or quite possibly, our kids! I've suspected them myself, so I did a little research.
According to the Library of Congress' science reference services, graying of hair is basically genetic and we tend to follow the pattern of our parents. Other factors such as hormones, genetic defects, and age (no way!) are spotlighted. So it's not the kids? Surely, I thought it was. Stress has to factor in here somewhere, doesn't it?
Well, I checked out WebMD (some pretty knowledgeable folks over there) and investigated a tad deeper on the effects of stress and graying. Unfortunately, they basically determined they just don't know because there is no scientific evidence to suggest it. Does that mean stress doesn't affect our hair at all? Yes and no. Paradi Mirmirani, a bona fide dermatologist who practices in Vallejo, California, is quoted on WebMD as saying "Stress because you're late to work or you've got a heavy workload is not going to cause you to lose hair." But she also informs us that big stressors, "Something that causes you to lose sleep...or changes your appetite and raises the level of stress hormones," may influence hair loss.
There you have it. Kids may not make our hair turn gray -though no one really knows- but if they cause you to lose sleep, they can make your hair fall out. Now, if only we could find a means of 'selective' hair loss.
The Library of Congress: Science Reference Services: Why does hair turn gray? Accessed February 2, 2012
WebMD: Author Joseph Saling: The Effects of Stress on Your Hair: Accessed February 2, 2012