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Intern Med. 2013;52(1):29-36. Epub 2013 Jan 1.

Premature hair whitening is an independent predictor of carotid intima-media thickness in young and middle-aged men.

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Department of Cardiology, Rize University Medical Faculty, Turkey.



Premature graying or whitening of the hair may possibly represent premature atherosclerotic changes as a surrogate marker of different host responses to cardiovascular risk factors (CVRFs). This study was undertaken to test whether carotid artery intima-media thickness (CIMT) as a validated surrogate marker of the severity and extent of coronary artery disease (CAD) is higher in subjects with prominent signs of hair whitening, independent of chronological age and other CVRFs.


The current study was conducted in young and middle-aged patients (<55 years age) without a history of cardiovascular disease. Two hundred and two eligible patients consecutively admitted to our outpatient clinic for CVRF management were included. A gray/white-hair scale was used to determine the percentage of hair whitening.


In the groups determined according to the degree of hair whitening, age (p<0.001), waist circumference (p=0.011), the presence of hypertension (p=0.003), the uric acid levels (p=0.008), the C - reactive protein levels (p=0.002) and CIMT (p<0.001) were significantly different. When we performed multivariate analyses to determine the independent predictors of CIMT and hair whitening, CIMT was found to be related to age, waist circumference, the levels of uric acid, bilirubin and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase, the presence of a family history of CAD and hair whitening, while hair whitening was found to be related to age, hypertension, the bilirubin level and CIMT.


Our findings suggest that premature hair whitening intensity is independently related to CIMT. In cumulative assessments of CVRFs on the human body, the presence of premature hair whitening may be useful in identifying individuals with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.

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