Smoking cigarettes is known to cause cancer, respiratory problems and heart disease, but there is also evidence to suggest that smoking could cause hair loss.
A 2007 study by scientists in Taiwan examined 740 men who were suffering from male pattern baldness. Their average age was 65.
Lin-Hui Su of the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital and Tony Hsiu-Hsi Chen of National Taiwan University found that smoking 20 or more cigarettes per day was a significant factor “in the development of moderate or severe” male hair loss. This remained the case even when hair loss genetics and all other relevant lifestyle factors had been taken into account.
A direct link between smoking and alopecia remains elusive, but there are a number of plausible theories about why it is cigarettes appear to trigger hair loss. One is to do with blood circulation: hair follicles need adequate blood flow to receive the optimum amounts of oxygen, nutrients, and minerals for hair growth. It is possible that smoking damages the circulatory system upon which the blood flow to the hair follicles depends, thus resulting in hair loss.
It is difficult to pick out the effects of smoking amongst the various and often inevitable symptoms of the ageing process, but the acceleration that cigarettes trigger could certainly be a factor.