Everyone knows that smoking is bad news for health, right? Wrong.
Despite all the evidence that cigarettes can cause everything from hair loss to cancer, a new study has found that, in America at least, the perception of smoking being bad for us is on the wane.
Prestigious American educational institution, Duke University carried out a study into people’s attitudes towards smoking. The data was taken from the answers of over 559,000 respondents aged 12 years and over, who completed the National Survey on Drug Use and Health. This is a survey issued annually for people to complete at home.
From this, researchers discovered the number of Americans who believed that smoking a pack of cigarettes per day posed a ‘great health risk’ had dropped by 1 per cent (equalling over 3 million people) between 2006 and 2015. This view was found to be more prevalent in women than in men, and – worryingly – in those aged 12 to 17 years old. The findings also showed that regular, daily smokers were less likely to see cigarette smoking as dangerous to their health than former or non-smokers.
Adding to this troubling trend, the number of survey respondents who believed smoking cigarettes posed ‘no risk’ increased from 1.45 per cent to 2.63 per cent within the ten year period under consideration.
Whilst examining the number of new smokers over the same time period, as provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, did not show that this had resulted in an increase in people taking up smoking, the figures are certainly concerning given what the study authors term the ‘potential slowing of progress’ in this vital area of health education.
“That’s 3 million people who might be more likely to start smoking, go back to smoking, or who are less likely to quit if they already smoke,” says the study’s lead author, Lauren Pacek, Ph.D., assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke.
The study’s co-author, Duke professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, Joe McClernon, Ph.D. added: “We were surprised by the findings… Cigarettes haven’t fundamentally changed over the last 15 years. They’re no safer. And we continue to see that large numbers of Americans are dying from tobacco-related disease – as many as 400,000 a year. So, it’s curious that the facts haven’t changed, but the risk perceptions have gone down.”
Smoking may cause hair loss and prematurely grey hair
According to the NHS, around 100,000 people in the UK die from smoking every year, with ‘many more living with debilitating smoking-related illnesses’. As the NHS website advises, ‘Smoking increases your risk of developing more than 50 serious health conditions. Some may be fatal and others can cause irreversible long-term damage to your health’.
Given the apparent lack of concern for the health risks connected to smoking – which include lung disease, COPD, increased risk of heart disease, heart attacks and cancer to name but a few – perhaps taking a vanity-led approach to education could be worth considering. Something many smokers may be unaware of is that cigarette smoking has been linked to both making hair go grey prematurely, as well as thinning and hair loss.
Smoking – like stress – has a drying effect on the body; this can lead to dry, thin hair which is brittle and breaks easily. It is believed to have negative effects on hair growth, with the pollutants found in cigarette smoke are thought to cause hair discolouration, including making people go grey earlier than their genes may have otherwise had in mind.
The largest study into hair loss and smoking to date was carried out in Taiwan. The Journal of Archives of Dermatology published the research paper in 2007. It discovered that there was a ‘statistically significant’ association between smoking more than 20 cigarettes per day and the genetic condition Male Pattern Baldness. Whether or not this also applies to women, with regards Female Pattern Hair Loss, is unknown given that the study only comprised male participants.
Other hair loss conditions linked with cigarette smoking include telogen effluvium, which causes temporary shedding from all over the scalp. Although this tends to resolve itself within six months, it is known to impact men and women with hereditary hair loss. In those with active Male or Female Pattern Baldness it may exacerbate the rate of hair fall, whilst in those with an underlying genetic predisposition who have not yet seen any outward signs of hair loss, it may bring about their premature onset.
For anyone concerned about excessive shedding, a consultation with a hair loss specialist can be a great way to establish its cause and the specific condition – or conditions, as it is possible to have more than one simultaneously. Once a professional diagnosis has been provided, personalised hair loss treatment course recommendations can also be made. These tend to involve the use of medically-proven medications, with additional non-pharmaceutical hair growth booster products, such as Belgravia’s highly-targeted premium food supplement Hair Vitalics which contains a range of key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanicals, including selenium, biotin and zinc to promote the maintenance of healthy hair growth.
Whilst quitting smoking is far easier said than done, it really is important for the good of our overall health, as well as that of our hair, to try. Anyone looking to give up smoking can speak to their GP who can advise them as to the range of tools – from smoking cessation devices to counselling – which can help to ease their way to breaking this expensive, addictive habit.
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.