The bald facts: Smokers risk hair loss - as well as fatal illnesses

Smoking is known to make your legs fall off. Now, it appears, it makes your hair fall out, too – and possibly for the same reasons.

A study of Asian men, renowned for hanging on to their hair compared with follically-challenged Europeans and Americans, found puffing on cigarettes can hasten male hair loss.

Smoking is known to accelerate ageing and is associated with facial wrinkles and grey hair. It is also causes a dozen different kinds of cancer and heart disease and damages circulation.

But none of this counts for much with the average red- blooded male – at least not as much as maintaining a healthy head of hair. Unlike grey hair and wrinkled skin, baldness is harder to treat and harder to disguise. Doctors see the latest discovery as a potentially valuable weapon in the battle to persuade smokers to give up.

Male pattern baldness runs in families and is partly influenced by male sex hormones but it is also subject to environmental factors. Baldness varies between races, with Asian men less likely to go bald than white Caucasians. But early hair loss in a smoker may be a warning signal of more serious damage elsewhere in the body.

Scientists studied 740 Taiwanese men with an average age of 65. After gathering information about the age at which they started losing their hair, their smoking history and their height and weight, as well as taking blood samples, they found cigarettes led to significantly more hair loss even after taking other factors into account.

The scientists, led by Dr Lin-hui Su, from the Far Eastern memorial hospital in Taiwan, wrote in the journal Archives of Dermatology: "After controlling for age and family history, statistically significant positive associations were noted between moderate or severe androgenetic alopecia [baldness] and smoking status, current smoking of 20 cigarettes or more per day and smoking intensity."

Source - Independent

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