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Med Hypotheses. 1991 Dec;36(4):404-11.

Is early onset of gray hair a risk factor?


An office and autopsy study was performed to see if early graying was associated with increased morbidity, earlier age at death, and specific cause of death. 195 consecutive office patients over the age of 40 were studied to see if premature graying of scalp hair (50% or more gray before age 50) was associated with increased incidence of disease before age 50 (P = ns). Their parents' mean ages at death, prematurely gray or not, were compared. For fathers, mean age at death if prematurely gray was 68.27 years; if not prematurely gray, 66.03 years (P = 0.35). For mothers, the values were 70.55 years and 70.37 years respectively (P = greater than 0.50). 874 autopsy patients dying over a 23-year period (1966-1989) were studied to see if the median age at death (of patients 50% or more gray) differed for any of the six categories of disease (myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, cancer, stroke, pneumonia/bronchitis, or cirrhosis of the liver/GI problems) when compared to the entire autopsy sample of 19 categories of disease (P = ns for each comparison). This dual office and autopsy study provides no evidence to support the contention that early gray hair is a risk factor.

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