“Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss mediated by systemic androgens and genetic factors,” notes the research team led by Prof. Hong Chang-kwon. “Various clinical studies suggest that a predisposition to androgenetic alopecia may be inherited from the paternal or maternal sides, or from both
A strong genetic basis has long been identified, although little is known of its non-genetic causes. However, recent research has shown that environmental factors may play a role in the pathogenesis of the condition. In a large population-based cross-sectional study, smoking was a statistically significant factor for androgenetic alopecia,” the research paper explains.
To evaluate its association with environmental factors, the researchers at Chung-Ang examined 3,114 Koreans with androgenetic alopecia who attended dermatology clinics between March 2011 and February 2012. Then dermatologists evaluated the patients using a questionnaire to ascertain the perceptible duration of hair loss and personal factors including family history, disease and medication history, and drinking and smoking habits. They also medically classified the hair loss based on shape and density of the hair.
The research showed that the men in the “both the drinking and smoking” group tended to have more severe hair loss. In female patients, however, they found no association, probably due to the relatively small number of the women in the smoking and drinking group.
“The mechanisms by which smoking causes hair loss may be multi-factorial. Cigarette smoking may be deleterious to the microvasculature of the dermal hair papilla and to the DNA of the hair follicle itself,” noted the research.
“Genetic factors play the main role in androgenetic alopecia, but the study showed that lifestyle such as smoking and drinking can also affect it. The nicotine in cigarettes can contract the vessels to hamper blood supply to the hair, and too much drinking can make the hair thinner and weaker by increasing the secretion of sebum in hair follicles. If this continues for a long time, it can aggravate the alopecia,” Prof. Hong said.
“To repress androgenetic alopecia, you should abstain from excessive drinking on top of quitting smoking. As alopecia can accelerate when you have a family history, you should consult a doctor when you start to see symptoms,” he added.
The research was published in the January edition of “Clinical and Experimental Dermatology,” a U.K. journal.