What white hair says about your health – Ouest-France evening edition

Hair turns white with age, it is inevitable. But this depigmentation can also be a sign of your health condition.

It is inevitable: around 40-50 years old, the hair turns white. This process, called canities, occurs when melanocytes, the cells responsible for hair color, stop secreting melanin. The hair is still growing, but without pigmentation! The first gray hairs can also appear at a very young age, sometimes from the twenties for the unluckiest… We can’t help it, “it’s a matter of genetics”, explained to us in August 2019 Sébastien Barbarot, dermatologist at Nantes University Hospital. As for the white hair that would appear overnight after stress, great fear or trauma, “It’s a myth” says the expert. Simply put, when your hair turns white, it’s natural. No tearing your hair out!

Warning signs of heart disease (in men)?

According to a 2017 study by the European Society of Cardiology, an organization that brings together thousands of cardiologists around the world, the more gray hair men have, the greater their risk of developing atherosclerosis, a disease that affects the arteries. their age.

“Aging is an unavoidable cardiovascular risk factor and is associated with dermatological signs that may signal an increased risk of heart disease,” explained one of the authors of this study, Dr. Irini Samuel, cardiologist at Cairo University. In this study, participants who already had atherosclerosis were more likely to have gray hair.

Sébastien Barbarot reminds, however, that regardless of the case, “the risk of developing cardiovascular disease increases with age”. Further studies would be needed to confirm the link between heart disease and white hair.

Vitamin deficiency

A balanced diet is necessary for good hair health. Deficiencies, particularly vitamins, are considered to be factors in hair bleaching.

“Low levels of vitamin B12 can lead to a decrease in pigmentation”, says Dr. Karthik Krishnamurthy, director of dermatology at Montefiore Medical Center in New York.

“This happens in cases of malnutrition or very unbalanced diets, which is rare in Western countries,” temperament Sébastien Barbarot.

Signs of an autoimmune disease

Vitiligo is mainly characterized by the appearance of white patches on the skin. But the depigmentation of the hair or facial hair is also a symptom of this autoimmune patient, according to Sébastien Barbarot.

This is also the case with alopecia areata, a disorder of the immune system that causes hair loss in patches. At the time of regrowth, the hair may turn white.

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