Question: Does smoking cause hair loss? I am generally healthy and active but also smoke around 20 cigarettes per day and wanted to know if that could be why my hair is thinning.
Answer: Hi Dan. Unfortunately, there’s nothing healthy about a 20-a-day cigarette habit not only does it increase your risk of heart disease and lung cancer but it can cause other conditions too, including hair loss.
A study of identical twins revealed factors including heavy drinking and smoking could lead to hair loss. In fact, men who smoke are twice as likely to experience hair loss than non-smokers, and smokers generally tend to have thinner hair with premature grey streaks. Experts believe that the toxic chemicals found in smoke may damage the DNA found in hair follicles, as well as producing free radicals which cause cell damage.
If that’s not enough for you to kick the habit, smoking also causes premature ageing, stained teeth and can even increase the risk of developing skin conditions such as psoriasis, which can affect your scalp and lead to thinning hair.
A 2007 Taiwanese study of more than 700 men aged over 40 revealed a link between smoking and hair loss. Participants completed a survey which looked at their family history of baldness, the age they first noticed hair loss and their smoking habits, as well as undergoing a physical exam. Analysis of the results showed that those who were the heaviest smokers were most likely to experience male pattern baldness, regardless of family history of the condition. Men who regularly smoked 20 a day or more were twice as likely to develop moderate or severe hair loss, compared to those who didn’t smoke at all.
Experts are still not clear on exactly why smoking can cause hair loss, but it’s thought that it can cause damage to the genetic structure of the hair follicles, leading to premature shedding and thinning hair. The chemicals in cigarette smoke could also harm the cells responsible for maintaining good circulation, vital for healthy, strong hair. Poor circulation to the scalp can rob follicles of essential nutrients needed for growth.
If you are concerned about your hair loss, it’s a good idea to rule out other conditions which could be causing it. Kicking the habit can help to prevent further hair fall and visiting a hairloss expert would be advisable as they can devise a personalised hair loss treatment and regrowth programme suited to your individual needs.
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