home
RSS
June 15th, 2009
10:12 AM ET

Is radiation causing prematurely gray hair?

By Madison Park
CNNHealth Writer

I was 22 years old when I plucked a gray strand from my tangled black hair.

I showed my mom the strange silver hair, and she shot me the "I-told-you-so" look.  She always told me that watching TV or being on the computer  would make me prematurely gray.

Her evidence: Every computer engineer she knew got gray in her 30's, but she only knew one computer engineer. So I dismissed this as a kooky theory.

But my gray encounter sparked a curiosity. I’ve seen an occasional silver strand and sometimes a scattering of gray hairs on students, teens and even kids.  One mother wrote to CNNhealth after spotting a strand of gray hair on her 3½-year-old daughter.

Could younger people be graying earlier?  Could it be hereditary or are there environmental factors - like  TVs and computer screens– as my mother suggested?

While researchers have no definitive answers, scientists in Japan say that "genotoxic stress" damages cells which are responsible for hair color. When these melanocyte stem cells die, we get irreversible graying, according to a report released this month in the journal Cell.

Our DNAs are under constant attack by chemicals, ultraviolet light and ionizing radiation, said one of the authors, Dr. Emi Nishimura of Kanazawa University.

In nature, ionizing radiation can come from cosmic rays from the sun and stars, and radioactive materials in rocks and soil, according to the National Institutes of Health. But ionizing radiation also comes from man-made sources, such as X-rays, televisions, smoke detectors, building materials, tobacco smoke, and mining and agricultural products, such as granite, coal, and potassium salt.

"It is estimated that a single cell in mammals can encounter approximately 100,000 DNA damaging events per day,” Nishimura wrote in an email. "But is not clear which kind of sources for genotoxic stress are the major contributors to aging or hair graying."

In Nishimura’s experiment, 7-to-8-week-old brown and black mice were exposed to whole-body X-rays. "If we try lower doses (of ionizing radiation), you can see a salt and pepper pattern in their hair," Nishimura said.  "With a bit higher doses, you can see more white hair.  Most of the hair became white."

While studies in mice don't always apply to humans, they can provide scientific clues.

“We discovered that hair graying, the most obvious aging phenotype, can be caused by the genomic damage response" wrote the researchers from the Center for Cancer and Stem Cell Research at Kanazawa University in Japan. The results on mice "suggest that physiological hair graying can be triggered by the accumulation of unavoidable DNA damage."

I haven't seen another gray hair in years, but I'm on the lookout.


soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Donna Wood Lil' Tennessee

    I started going grey at 16 years of age. My Grandmother on my Mom's side of the family had completely white hair by the time she was 20 years of age. I worked for three years taking dental x-rays for an oral surgeon I worked with and was going grey long before that. I believe it's genetic. I am basing this on my own personal experience.

    Donna Wood
    Lil' Tennessee

    June 15, 2009 at 21:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Mary Calif

    I have two brothers and one sister. My brothers and I, all born during the early 1950's, were x-rayed "in utero". This was before ultrasonography, and our mother's physician, suspecting some problem with her pregnancies, took the extreme step of using x-rays to verify they were normal. My mother was under the care of another physician when she was pregnant with my sister, and no x-rays were performed. My brothers and I produce minimal melanin and have had platinum hair since birth, although with hazel or blue eyes and without some symptoms that one associates with true albinism. My sister has auburn hair and more normal skin coloring. I suspect that multiple factors may influence loss of hair color. Radiation is perhaps one of these and genetics another - and some of us may have been affected by both!

    June 17, 2009 at 23:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Nancy Rawson

    If this hypothesis were true, all airline personnel would be gray early – which does not seem to be the case at least based on my personal knowledge (small n), and not based on in-air observations but on people I know in the industry personally, so I know they aren't dying their hair!

    June 18, 2009 at 10:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Security Light 

    my preference would be photoelectric type smoke detectors because they don't contain radioactive materials`,:

    October 20, 2010 at 17:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sleeper Sofa ·

    when choosing smoke detectors, it is still cheaper to use those ionization type smoke detectors "

    November 9, 2010 at 18:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Lisa

    Good day there, I simply adore they way you write. Would be bombastic if you can offer me some counseling on my site. It's: trussbridgeshistory

    February 25, 2011 at 18:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Iron Deficiency

    Nice read, I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he just bought me lunch because I found it for him smile Therefore let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch!

    June 22, 2011 at 17:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Seymour Coghlan

    I am not rattling superb with English but I find this rattling leisurely to understand .

    December 2, 2011 at 11:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. ekstenzije za kosu

    Wonderful site. Lots of helpful info here. I'm sending it to several pals ans also sharing in delicious. And certainly, thank you for your sweat!

    April 1, 2012 at 01:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Elnora Moyer

    There is apparently a lot to identify about this. I consider you made some nice points in features also.

    June 23, 2012 at 06:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. miumiu borse

    Quando 猫 arrivato lungo Ia Yu, Jiuxiao corpo spingere nube bestia 猫 stato penetrato diversi fori, ma ostinatamente stare in occhio gigante prima oppure attraverso la propria difesa!
    miumiu borse http://www.2013miumiuborse.com/

    November 27, 2013 at 23:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Delmer Prevette

    That is the very best search system in the planet

    http://google.com

    April 15, 2017 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. best wya to market

    I tend not to create many remarks, however I read through some comments here. I actually do have 2 questions for you if you tend not to mind. Is it just me or does it appear like some of these responses come across like they are coming from brain dead folks? 😛 And, if you are writing at other sites, I'd like to follow you. Would you post a list of every one of your social sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

    https://www.linkedin.com/feed/update/urn:li:activity:6358803586176077824

    July 5, 2018 at 18:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. Puncture Shop in Tirunelveli

    It sounds like you’re creating problems yourself by defining this as such a comprehensive, almost unknowable problem. i 've that self-defeating?

    https://www.engatirunelveli.com/cat/puncture-shop/

    September 29, 2018 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. about his electrician free estimate

    hi!,I really like your writing so a lot! proportion we keep up a correspondence extra about your article on AOL? I need a specialist on this area to solve my problem. Maybe that's you! Looking ahead to look you.

    https://BobJohnsonblog398.com/

    December 3, 2020 at 00:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. from this source electric service

    I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I will bookmark your weblog and check again here regularly. I am quite sure I’ll learn a lot of new stuff right here! Best of luck for the next!

    https://BobJohnsonblog398.com/

    December 4, 2020 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. detectives privados utrera

    detectives en mijas

    https://www.argadetectives.com/detectives-manresa-cataluna.html

    December 10, 2020 at 03:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. bitcoin to paypal

    Transfer from bitcoin to paypal very fast and low cost.

    https://exchanger24.org/xchange_btc_to_ppusd/

    December 15, 2020 at 19:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Mellissa Polito

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    January 15, 2021 at 20:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. Bennie Hoppman

    https://www.electricpercolatorcoffeepot.com/10-top-coffee-bloggers/

    January 21, 2021 at 00:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. LorenaBlairjar

    Engaging in Safe online dating for Asian Singles

    online dating service personals has emerged as a main source of fun in this era. making use of a single click, an individual your choice and people. This innovation has brought some ease but there are drawbacks. If you like online dating or you could do so soon, You afroromance.com should take care.

    Asiame:know scamming and online frauds.

    o. k,right, A young lad is sitting on pc. He is looking to get a nice classy, Asia hot date. He thinking about something that would blow his mind so he starts Go oglingabout this. unexpectedly, A website with elegant face and body pops out. He immediately signed up and paid the money without investigating the claims of website. when the process is complete, You receive a message that this lady is unavailable at the moment. That moment doesn't have to come again. a person careful before you spend the money. Always try to find the authenticity of a website. Read user reviews. whatever should be kept private. after you're talking to an Asianwoman for marriage, Refrain giving your data unless you establish a strong level of trust. some times, A website requires your PayPal account or store card. you'll want to be careful about this step. This might hurt your financial privacy. Make sure that the website has all required security measures to protect monetary information online.

    Asiame:Learn the secrete of online dating service personals.

    The biggest factor of a successful online dating relationship is how you provide words to other party. Learn to give words to your thinking. If you understand how to flirt a girl online, You could most likely score. Don't push things faster than predicted or required. Know your ex such as an Asian sexy cute girlthen setup the meeting. If your online date is suggesting that you meet immediately in private, this may be a red signal for you. Do not comply with this path. it isn't normal. spend your time, Find your right match and then also, Find Asiangirl for marriage.

    January 22, 2021 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


 

CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

Advertisement
About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.