How lifestyle can affect your hair loss

November 12, 2012

How lifestyle can affect your hair loss

There are many factors associated with hair loss, not just the genetics of family, other issues like smoking, drinking, stress and exposure to the sun affected hair loss, although it appeared that genes were the main factor in men going bald.

New studies of identical male and female twins suggest that although lifestyle factors do have an input, genes are also influential in this area. This applied more to women than men. One study showed that women who had lost their partners, either by death or divorce increased their risk of losing hair at the midline. This then continues to widen.

The studies are due to be presented at the 2011 annual meeting of the American Society of Plastic Surgery in Denver, Colorado. However the findings are still preliminary because they have not been peer reviewed or presented at a medical conference yet.

It may appear disheartening to men to find out that genes are the major cause of baldness but experts say that by changing to a healthier lifestyle and being aware of stress levels may aid in hair returning to normal.

Stress in woman is associated to hair loss, and one of the main factors is related to a woman’s marital status. It has been noted in a study of twins, that the twin who is in a stable marriage has a fuller head of hair, compared to a sibling who has went through a divorce or has been widowed.

The studies found that factors which also contributed to the hair loss in women were having a high income, lots of children and high blood pressure. All are factors with a relationship to stress. While factors helping to keep a healthy head of hair included being a coffee drinker, happily married, wearing hats and using sun protection.

A study has been carried out by Bahman Guyuron, MD, Plastic Surgeon at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. Two groups of 90 male and 98 female identical twins were involved. “Twins are genetically destined to have the same number of hairs, and if one has fewer it means that it is related to outside factors. What is amazing is how many of these twins have exactly the same behaviours, the same things matching except one or two factors that possibly may contribute to these differences” Guyuron says.

The lives and habits of the twins were established and photographs were taken of the scalps to determine the size of any thinning areas. Experts gave their opinion on the results to see which twins had the most hair.

Dermatologist, Doris Day, MD from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who did not participate in this research says of the findings that life factors can affect hair loss, “The sooner you address it, the better your chances of having recovery”.

In men the strongest factor relating to balding was genes. However heavy drinking, smoking, exposure to the sun and the amount of exercise taken all had a bearing on the likelihood of becoming bald.

As with the women, wearing hats helped improve the chances of keeping your hair and if you were heavier, with a higher BMI (Body Mass Index) then you were also less likely to go bald. Previous studies have indicated that higher testosterone levels are related to hair loss and lower levels of testosterone had a link to weight gain.

Experts are not surprised to find that lifestyle has an influence in hair loss. Wilma Bergfeld, MD, is a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio and she says, “I would say it’s an interesting observation that needs further review”. And she notes that the findings are still preliminary meaning that they have yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. At this point they will be subjected to increased academic scrutiny. She also says, “Three cells lines have the fastest turnover cell in your body: Your bone marrow, your GI tract, and your hair follicles. Anything that upsets them will have an adverse effect”.

Other experts confirm that in their everyday lives they come across hair loss in women caused by stress more than in men. However they suggest that factors including childbirth, marriage, divorce are the main players in the stress pattern and they also say that it is common for hair loss to become noticeable about three months after a traumatic event.

Other things like smoking and alcohol are already known to be poisonous to the skin. One expert concludes by pointing out that if a stressful situation occurs the first things many people will do is reach for the cigarettes or a drink. This maximizes the affect of the stress.


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