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The Link Between Smoking and Hair Loss

Smoking can have many negative consequences. Heart disease, cancer, and respiratory illnesses are really just the tip of the iceberg. But if health problems don’t convince you to quit smoking, maybe this will: studies also indicate that smoking causes hair loss. Keep reading to learn the reasons why smoking causes hair loss and how to reduce hair loss from smoking.

Smoking and Hair Loss

For years, people have postulated that smoking and hair loss are linked, but now several recent scientific studies have that there’s some truth to this claim. For example, one study of 600 men and women found a significant link between smoking and hair loss.

Another study published in Archives of Dermatology found similar results in a group of 740 Taiwanese men. This study was particularly notable because scientists discovered that men who smoked 20 or more cigarettes per day were twice as likely to have hair loss than men who had never smoked!

Why Smoking Causes Hair Loss?

Scientists have suggested a few reasons that smoking causes hair loss, including:

Toxins in cigarettes can damage the DNA of hair follicles. Cigarette smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals, including toxic compounds like ammonia, formaldehyde, arsenic, and acetone. It’s thought that free radicals from the chemicals can alter the DNA of hair follicles, causing them to function incorrectly.

Adequate blood flow is essential for delivering important nutrients to the hair follicles for proper hair growth. Unfortunately, smoking decreases circulation, which can impair blood flow to the follicles, thus altering hair growth patterns.

Cigarettes cause the skin to age prematurely, including hair follicles. This accelerates age-related hair loss. For this reason, smoking can also cause prematurely gray hair.

Smoking disrupts the body’s endocrine system, which in turn can raise levels of DHT, the hormone responsible for male pattern baldness. This hormone causes hair follicles to shrink until they can no longer produce hair. Follicles that do continue to function tend to grow hair that’s more brittle and prone to breakage, which can also contribute to the appearance of thinning hair.

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