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Exeter Trichology Blog

Smoking & Hair Loss - Time to Quit?

We all know the link between cigarette smoking and increased morbidity. There has also been much documented evidence about the effects of tobacco smoking and its effect on premature skin ageing, but is there a link between smoking and hair loss?

A cross-sectional study in 2007 conducted in Taiwan demonstrated a significant link between smoking status and hair loss that was independent of age and genetic history. Male pattern baldness runs in families but it is also subject to environmental factors.

Evidence supports that smoking increases oxidative stress and this is pivotal in the ageing process. Ageing hair results in a decrease in melanocyte function or greying, and a decrease in hair production or alopecia. The mechanism by which cigarette smoking leads to hair loss are not fully understood. It is thought to be multi-factorial perhaps through damage to the micro-vasculature of the dermal papilla and to the DNA of the hair follicle.

Studies also claim that there is a link between common baldness in men and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) warns men not to be alarmed by these findings.

"More research is needed to confirm any link. In the meantime, it's more important to pay attention to your waist line than your hair line."

The link between heart disease and baldness is unclear but baldness may be a sign of pre-diabetes, chronic inflammation or an increased sensitivity to testosterone, all of which increase the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Early hair loss in a smoker may be a warning signal of more serious damage elsewhere in the body.

Whilst hair loss may be attributed to many other reasons, if the link between hair loss and smoking is in the public’s awareness then it may encourage more people to quit smoking.

Nicola Hemsley AIT
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Nicola Hemsley
Southernhay Clinic 
4 Barnfield Crescent
Tel: 01392 430115
Mob: 07841 237888

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