Bad news for smokers: multiple observational studies confirm a significant link between cigarette smoke and hair loss, for both men and women. While hair loss in women is genetically less likely, this is a game changer.
Can Smoking Cause Hair Loss?
Absolutely. Cigarettes contain toxins which directly cause damage to the DNA of the hair follicle, according to the National Institutes of Health. Smokers and those exposed to cigarette smoke are at a greater risk of hair loss. The risk increases with heavier use of cigarettes.
How Does Cigarette Smoke Cause Hair Loss?
Researchers believe that the cause is multifaceted, and most likely related to the negative effect that cigarette smoke has on the tiny blood vessels of the dermal hair papilla. An imbalance occurs when cigarette smoke is introduced repeatedly to the follicular enzyme balancing system, which controls tissue restoration during the hair growth cycle.
The Opposite Effect of Anti-Oxidants:
Most people have heard of anti-oxidants. Smoking has the opposite, or pro-oxidant effect, which leads to the release of pro-inflammatory small proteins. These proteins are absolutely vital in cell signaling. They directly effect the behavior of cells.
When cigarette smoke is introduced, the results are inflammation and an increased build up of chemicals in otherwise organic matter (your hair follicles and hair papilla), and this acts as an aromatase-inhibator. Aromatase is the enzyme responsible for a key-step in the production of estrogen, which is found in both men and women, and must be kept in balance. Without this enzyme, estrogen production is significantly lowered, and the hair follicle is tricked into early aging, so to speak, resulting in premature hair loss.
Studies Have Been Out For Years:
Many of the studies that connect cigarette smoking to hair loss, have been out for years, but surprisingly many people are just learning about them. For instance, in 2008, The New York Times, reported an observational study on men, who generally have a lower hereditary risk of balding. The control group showed greater hair loss in men who smoked, and an even greater loss for men who smoked heavily.
The evidence is overwhelming. It seems that smoking is dangerous to every system and function of the human body, including hair growth.