Researcher links smoking and hair loss in menBy Dianne Partie LangeL.A. Times
April 21, 2003
The same destructive effects that smoking has on skin, causing premature aging among other visible changes, also may contribute to baldness.
Wound-healing experiments have shown that the smallest blood vessels that supply the scalp are constricted by both acute and long-term smoking, reports Dr. Ralph M. Trueb, a dermatologist at the University Hospital of Zurich, in an editorial in the April issue of Dermatology. Researchers also have detected nicotine and cotinine, a toxic byproduct in smoke, in smokers' hair. Studies have shown that when these substances are processed by cells in the hair follicle, mutations occur in the cell's DNA.
Among the research Trueb cites in his editorial is evidence that smoking causes inflammation. Experiments have shown that pro-inflammatory proteins inhibit growth of hair follicles. These proteins trigger the release of enzymes that cause scarring around the follicles, which also interferes with hair growth.
Cigarette smoking also causes a drop in estrogen, tipping the hormone balance in favor of the male hormone androgen, which contributes to hair loss in men.Dianne Partie Lange