That familiar feeling of wanting another drink (or three) after we’ve downed a first glass of wine or beer is bad news for us on multiple levels – as well as filling us full of calories and increasing the risk of both alcohol-related injuries and an assortment of health issues, too many drinks can play a part in certain hair loss conditions.
Most commonly, drinking alcohol to excess on a regular basis can have a negative effect on the hair by increasing or triggering thinning hair in both men and women with a genetic predisposition to hereditary hair loss.
Now, hope is at hand for everyone who struggles to call it a night after that thirst-quenching first tipple. And it comes in the form of new research that suggests we may one day be able to give the sensible part of our brain that enables us to say, “no” a bit of a boost.
Neural pathways can lead to drinking
Reporting on findings published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the futurity.org website explains how Jun Wang, assistant professor of neuroscience and experimental therapeutics at Texas A&M University College of Medicine, has researched how neural pathways in the brain dictate whether or not we carry on drinking alcohol.
In short, the article reports that, “Each neuron has one of two types of dopamine receptors – D1 or D2; D1 neurons are informally called part of the ‘go’ pathway in the brain, while DE neurons are in the ‘no go’ pathway.”
D2 neurons, when activated, prompt you to stop doing something. Unfortunately, they are less likely to become activated when people drink.
The answer, says Mr Wang, may be to artificially manipulate these D2 neurons so that saying no to a night of binge drinking becomes a much easier option. In tests on animals, researchers were able to reduce alcohol drinking when D2 neurons were stimulated.
Too much alcohol – while never a direct cause of hair loss – can impact on general health in such a way as to be a problem to anyone who treasures the idea of a full head of hair. It can lead, for example, to a reduction in the amount of zinc in the body. Zinc helps the body to absorb a whole host of key nutrients, some of which are important for hair health. Zinc levels need to be topped up on a daily basis, and alcohol can stop it being properly absorbed in the body.
Regularly drinking too much alcohol can also lead to depleted iron levels – in women especially this can be a problem that leads to a condition called Telogen Effluvium, which is seen as a general thinning of the hair from all over the scalp.
Alcoholism, and even just frequently over-doing it, can also help to trigger or exacerbate existing shedding in those affected or predisposed to male pattern baldness or, for women, female pattern hair loss.
The associated behaviours that tend to increase when people drink too much can also have the same negative effects as outlined above. These include smoking, making poor food choices, and not getting enough sleep.
Whilst researchers’ are specifically targeting those with alcohol addiction, given many people in Britain reportedly struggle to keep their drinking within the recommended guidelines, this new discovery could be a game-changer in helping many more people to make healthier choices, potentially reducing associated hairloss in the process.
Brittle hair and hair breakage
Another problem that can arise as a result of too much alcohol is dehydration. Alcohol is a diuretic, which causes an increase in urination and, as a result, a depletion of water the body. This can make hair become dry and brittle and the chances of hair breakage increase. This is where hairs become so weak that they snap along the shaft, giving the appearance of thinning.
The research team in Texas says its findings are still a long way from human testing, so while we wait for doctors to create a “just say no” pill, the best thing to do is to try and take a measured approach to alcohol and get professional help in dealing with addiction where needed.
In terms of alcohol-related hair loss, there are effective options for dealing with the conditions that are caused or worsened by excessive drinking, for both men and women. Following a consultation, either in person or online, with a dedicated hair loss specialist nurse, a bespoke hair loss treatment course can be tailored to the client’s individual needs. In addition to clinically-proven treatments, these courses can also include hair growth boosters and lifestyle advice in order to address any underlying issues that may be involved.
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.