Studies identify predictors for female, male hair loss
Divorce, smoking, heavy drinking can increase hair loss risk for women
Age and genetics have traditionally been considered the most reliable predictors of both female and male hair loss. However, two new studies involving identical twins reveal new contributors to hair loss in both women and men. In fact, being a divorcee, widow, heavy smoker or drinker can wreak havoc on one's hairline, especially if you're a woman, the studies find.
"Never before has the role of some of these contributors to hair loss been documented," said study co-author Bahman Guyuron, M.D. "While genetics remain a strong predictor of some types of hair loss, introducing certain stressful or unhealthy factors into a person's life can result in more hair loss."
The studies were presented at the annual conference of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) during September 2011 in Denver.
One study examined 84 female identical twins and found the strongest predictor of female hair loss was marital status. Those who were divorced or widowed exhibited more hair loss than married women. In addition, a large weekly consumption of alcohol led to higher levels of female hair loss along the front of the head. Heavy smoking was a significant contributor to female hair loss in the temple area. However, women who drank moderately - two alcoholic beverages a week - experienced significantly less temporal hair loss than their twin.
"Identical twins are genetically programmed to experience similar patterns of aging and hair loss," said Dr. Guyuron. "If one twin loses more hair than the other, it is related to external factors."
A second study looked at 66 male identical twins and found that while genetics was the strongest predictor of male hair loss along the front of the head, smoking, heavy sun exposure and a history of dandruff were also contributors. In addition, medical conditions like hypertension, a lack of regular exercise, and elevated testosterone levels contributed to increased rates of hair loss in men.
"There is as much interest in preventing and treating hair loss, as there is in finding ways to turn back the clock," said Dr. Guyuron. "Many women, and men, deeply suffer from hair loss. Discovering the controllable factors that contribute to hair loss will help us to prevent it more successfully and develop better means to manage this troubling condition."
Source: The American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 9/21/11