We have all seen the commercials and other marketing efforts over the last few decades that encourage those who smoke to quit. Smoking has been tied to so many health issues, from cancer to stroke, and many other things in between. But have you ever considered that smoking may also cause hair loss?
Preliminary findings from new studies of male and female identical twins suggest that smoking, may also have a detrimental affect on hair follicles. Smoking appears to boost the risk for hair loss among women. “What we can say is that we identified factors that appear to both raise risk and lower risk, for both men and women, independent of genetic disposition,” says study author Dr. Bahman Guyuron, chairman of the department of plastic surgery at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine.
Near the temples of the head, the team found that the more years a woman had smoked the greater the hair loss. Hair loss nearer the top of the head among women was linked to being diabetic, having some form of skin disease and being a current smoker, while being overweight or obese was associated with lower risk of hair loss.
“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,” says Wilma Bergfeld, MD, a dermatologist at Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio. As for lifestyle factors, she says smoking and heavy alcohol drinking are known to be toxic to the skin. And often, several will occur together to create a perfect storm of tress trouble. “If you have stress and you have smoking and drinking on top of it, the drinking enhances smoking effects,” she says. ”They’re not all separate.”
But the good thing is, experts say that adopting healthier habits and controlling stress can sometimes help hair come back. “Part of it is to manage what you can,” says Doris Day, MD, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City who was not involved in the research. “The sooner you address it, the better your chances of having recovery.” Other factors associated with keeping more hair included wearing hats and other sun protection, drinking coffee, and having a stable marriage.
Would you like to quit smoking, but don’t know where to start? Here are some links that you can visit that have great information on how to quit smoking and get on your way to a healthier lifestyle: Cancer.org, Smokefree.gov, CDC