Does Early Greying of Hair Confer Increased Risk of Heart Disease? — Donovan Hair Clinic

Early Greying of Hair Associated with Elevated Cardiovascular Risk Markers

Typically, Caucasians begin greying in their mid-30s; Asians in the late 30s; African-Americans in the mid-40s. About one half of the world’s population has some degree of greying by age 50. The term “premature greying of hair (PGH)” or early canities refers to hair greying that occurs before the age of 20 in Caucasians, before 25 in Asian individuals and before 30 in black men and women. 

It is often said that by age 50, about 50 % of the Caucasian population has at least 50 % grey hairs. This has been referred to this as the “50-50-50 Rule:” Other studies have suggested that that number is a gross overestimation and about 6-23 % of the population probably has 50 % of their hair grey by age 50.

The underlying defect in canities is a depletion of the melanocyte stem cell pool. Oxidative stress, psychological stress, inflammation and genetics are thought to drive this process in affected individuals. It has been proposed that pro-inflammatory cytokines like interleukin-6 (IL-6) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) as well as a reduction in available anti-oxidants may contribute to premature greying of the hair.

See Prior Articles

“Premature Greying of Hair: A Short Primer for Hair Specialists”

“Early Greying of Hair: What Factors Need to Be Considered?”

“Hair Greying and the 50-50-50 Rule”

”Premature Greying: Family History in 39 %”

”Systematic Review Captures Risks Associated with Premature Greying”

“Metabolic Risk Factors in Premature Greying of Hair”

“Meta-Analysis Points to Lower Calcium and Copper in Premature Greying”

Das et al 2022

In a new study, authors set out to assessed cardiovascular risk factors in patients with premature greying. This included an examination of IL6 and TNF levels as well as classic risk factors like insulin resistance, blood pressure, cholesterol etc. The hypothesis was that higher levels of various cardiovascular risk factors may be present in patients with early canities and potentially these factors may contribute in some way to early greying of hair.

Forty patients with premature canities between the ages of 19 and 25 years with >5 grey hair were compared to age and sex- matched healthy controls

A detailed history and examination including height, weight, waist circumference, blood pressure and pulse rate were documented for all individuals in the study. Blood tests were drawn to evaluate lipid profile, fasting blood sugar, serum insulin, IL-6, TNF-α and high sensitivity c-reactive protein (hs-CRP). The homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) index was calculated from fasting blood sugar and serum insulin.


The earliest age at onset of canities in this study was 9 years and the mean age of onset was 19.5 years. The mean grey hair count was 32.9 hairs and 13 (32.5%) patients had mild, 20 (50%) had moderate and 7 (17.5%) had severe canities. The parietal scalp (n = 30; 75%) was most commonly involved, followed by the temporal (n = 18; 45%), frontal (n = 11; 27.5%) and occipital (n = 2; 5%) areas.


A family history of early canities was noted in about one quarter of patients. A significantly higher proportion of patients with early canities had a family history of diabetes.

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