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Why Traffic Pollution Could Be Making Male Pattern Hair Loss Worse

The daily commute endured by millions of motorists around the world may be far worse than was thought; as well as being life-sappingly monotonous, making slow progress though traffic could actually be a cause of hair loss.

This is because of pollutants in the air – specifically those from exhaust fumes – which, according to a new study from scientists in the US, exist inside vehicles in far greater quantities than was thought.

Governments regularly monitor pollution levels at roadsides, but a research team at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, wondered if these truly reflected what drivers and passengers were exposed to when inside their vehicles.

traffic congestion lights stop halt pollution london30 motorists recruited

To test this, scientists created a device that could be strapped to the passenger seat of a car and take readings during the daily commute. They chose Atlanta, Georgia – famous for its congestion and people’s reliance on cars to get around – as their test site, and recruited 30 motorists to take part.

The results of this small-scale trial were astounding: the device inside the car measured up to twice as much particulate matter as the roadside sensors. Additionally, researchers found that this pollution contained twice the amount of chemicals that cause oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress and hair loss have become inextricably linked of late as scientists dig deeper into why it may be a cause of the genetic condition male pattern baldness.

Oxidative stress is defined as ‘a state of physiological or psychological strain caused by adverse stimuli, physical, mental, or emotional, internal or external, that tend to disturb the functioning of an organism and which the organism naturally desires to avoid’.

It is precisely what people are aiming to counter when they load up on antioxidants, but it now appears that motorists in particular may not be doing enough.

Medical experts in both London and Turkey have been investigating links between oxidative stress and androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) with the latter suggesting that it can lead to ‘early-onset’ aka premature male pattern hair loss. This common condition is categorised as being ‘early onset’ or ‘premature’ when signs of thinning hair around the top of the scalp and/or a receding hairline develop when a man is in his teens or early 20s).

The London team, meanwhile, worked on a report entitled ‘Oxidative Stress-Associated Senescence in Dermal Papilla Cells of Men with Androgenetic Alopecia’.

Dealing with hair loss holistically

There are a number of environmental and lifestyle factors known to potentially speed up this hereditary condition’s onset in men who are genetically predisposed to it – or to increase shedding in men for whom male pattern baldness is already in effect.

They do so by placing “stress” on the body and encompass persistent issues as wide as varied as having a poor or unbalanced diet, smoking, not getting enough sleep and as a reaction to drugs, including prescription medication, or a traumatic event – from a car accident to a divorce or bereavement. Given millennials are reportedly the most stressed generation, it is perhaps not surprising that there has been a rise in premature hair loss, especially in young men though women are also being affected.

Pauses in the hair growth cycle caused by these stressors can lead to a generalised hair thinning condition named Telogen Effluvium. Specialists have noted that this temporary form of shedding can then trigger male pattern hairloss in men who, although they would definitely have an existing underlying genetic predisposition may not have otherwise experienced its onset until a later date.

So what is the answer? At Belgravia, clients seeking hair loss treatment are consulted about their lifestyle in order to identify any additional external influences that may be problematic to hair growth. Having a healthy, balanced approach alone will certainly not reverse hair lost to male pattern baldness, but it is a starting point. It is generally recommended that suitable male clients take food supplements called Hair Vitalics for Men, which contain key vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanical extracts that can help to support healthy hair growth. Additionally, the FDA-cleared HairMax LaserComb, which uses low-level laser therapy to stimulate the scalp, can be beneficial.

A clever tip for motorists, given to us by a Belgravia client, was to keep the LaserComb fully charged in the glove compartment of the car. That way, it can be used when stuck in traffic – especially if you have tinted windows!

Vitally, these hair growth boosters form part of a larger treatment package which, critically, includes a combination of clinically-proven medications. The first is finasteride 1mg, a one-a-day DHT–blocker, whilst the second is minoxidil – a topical vasodilator which is applied directly to the scalp, where needed. Belgravia has seen – and continues to see – many, many success stories from using this combination of finasteride and high strength minoxidil paired with appropriate hair growth boosters, in men from 18 years of age upwards.

Of course, it is hardly possible for most people to abandon their daily commute – and it would also be jumping the gun at this stage to state that by doing so genetic hair loss could be averted. What the research from the Atlanta study does perhaps do is prove once again that there are a multitude of factors at play when considering hair loss – and even more reasons to care about our environment.


Circ - Male Pattern Baldness hair loss treatment Belgravia Centre clinic LondonThe Belgravia Centre

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.


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