In this week's Healthy Tennessean... Men shouldn't need another reason to quit smoking, but if they do, this one should hit home.
Male pattern baldness accounts for more than 95 percent of hair loss in men.
By age 35, two-thirds of American men have some degree of hair loss.
Now, a new study shows smoking cigarettes plays an important role in how much hair a man may lose, and why.
Most men experiencing hair loss will tell you it affects their relationships and even their career.
Many will try anything to stop it.
But this new study shows the more than a quarter of Tennessee men who smoke cigarettes may actually be causing it.
"The type of hair loss that they're talking about specifically in this is called androgenic, or androgenetic aropecia, and that's the typical male pattern hair loss that you hear about."
Southeastern Dermatology Consultants Doctor Matthew Doppelt says much like smoking affects the circulation of blood through the body, it may also affect circulation in the scalp.
Smoking may destroy hair follicles, interfere with the way blood and hormones are circulated in the scalp or increase the production of estrogen.
"We know that the circulation is affected when people smoke, and so it doesn't surprise me that this would alter the circulation around the hair follicles, and could affect the way the hair grows." Doppelt says.
This study looks at 740 men in Taiwan with an average age of 65.
It finds cigarette smoking to cause moderate to severe hair loss in men who smoke 20 or more cigarettes a day.
The study also says while this type of hair loss is common in whites, it is less common among blacks, asians and native americans.
Doppelt says, "This particular story was in Taiwanese men, and so we have to be careful when we generalize it to the public at large, but it certainly makes sense."
The study recommends men showing early signs of hair loss should be advised about the role smoking can play to prevent further progression.
Previous studies have shown Asian men generally have less trouble than Caucasians with hereditary male baldness.
But this study shows smoking cigarettes may erase that edge.
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