Anecdotal evidence suggesting that certain hair loss conditions may be exacerbated by e-cigarettes has been lent a dose of credibility by a new report from the US which appears to find conclusive proof that vaping is far from harmless.
Researchers at the UNC Medical Centre in North Carolina conducted a small study into how vaping affects e-cigarette smokers at a cellular level, and the news is far from good: they found that while smoking cigarettes decreases the gene expression of 53 genes that play a part in fighting viruses and bacteria, vaping affects an astonishing 358 of them.
It should be pointed out that the research team don’t yet fully understand the implications of these findings, and that they state it could be many years before the effects of what is still a relatively new phenomenon are properly understood.
Smoking linked to hair loss
Smoking cigarettes has long – if inconclusively – been linked to hair loss, with several different studies painting a very different picture as to the veracity of the claim that it can lead to hair prematurely falling out.
What is very plausible is that cigarette smoking, being an unquestionably unhealthy pursuit, could be affecting smokers’ overall health levels, and this in turn is leading to biological deficiencies that manifest themselves as thinning hair. The new evidence suggests that something similar could be true when people choose electronic cigarettes over traditional ones.
Going deeper, what the American team specifically looked at was how smoking tobacco or e-cigarettes affected genes that help the upper airways fight off disease-causing micro-organisms. Nasal samples from 14 smokers, 12 e-cigarette smokers and 13 non-smokers were assessed for the test.
Science website futurity.org reports that the focus was on something called epithelial cells which line the airways to filter out an assortment of things that can make us ill. “These epithelial cells are critical for normal immune defence,” it states.
Ilona Jaspers, lead researcher in the UNC study, is quoted in the futurity article as saying: “We found that each gene common to both groups was suppressed more in the E-cigarette group. We currently do not know exactly how E-cigarettes do this.”
The article further quotes Ms Jaspers as saying it would be a mistake to label e-cigarettes as worse than smoking tobacco or to try and directly compare the two. But questions are now clearly there to be answered, and the UNC team’s next goal is to introduce the flu virus to epithelial cells in e-cigarette users to see how they react.
Hair growth cycle links
What is interesting from a hairloss point of view is that epithelial cells play a key role in the healthy functioning of the hair growth cycle.
An extract from a review of hair follicle dermal cells at the US Library of Medicine states that: “Hair follicle stem cells in the epithelial bulge are responsible for the continual regeneration of the hair follicle during cycling.”
The bottom line is that poor health, poor diet and a stressful lifestyle can all impact on hair health, and may play a part in hair loss. A condition known as Telogen Effluvium – a general thinning of the hair – is frequently linked to damaging lifestyle choices, but these can also have an effect on both men and women who have inherited genetic hair loss conditions.
Both Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss can be worsened or even triggered by certain habits from smoking to excessive drinking, as well as dietary imbalances, in those who are predisposed to this common condition. Subtle changes to the everyday routine – such as eating a balanced diet, taking nutritional supplements, exercising and not smoking – can sometimes make a positive difference to the condition of the hair, whilst a bespoke hair loss treatment course is often able to restore any thinning hair caused by the underlying genetic condition.
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.