December 18, 2007
Itís not hard to find a well documented downside to smoking. The increased risk of various types of cancer, heart disease and impotence are to name but a few. However, we can now add a new one to the list Ė baldness.
New research has uncovered yet another reason to quit. Studies suggest that men who smoke cigarettes are more likely to lose their hair, even after other factors have been considered.
A total of 740 Taiwanese men with an average age of 65 were polled about when they began losing their hair, their family history, their smoking habits and their height and weight. Blood samples were also taken.
The scientists at the Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in Taiwan found "statistically significant positive associations" between moderate or severe baldness and smoking history - even after taking age and family history into account.
It was hypothesised that smoking could be damaging to the micro-circulation which supplies blood and hormones to hair follicles or that it was increasing the production of oestrogen.
The research, which was published in Archives of Dermatology, follows the findings of an ICM survey by the Prostate Cancer Charity that found that going bald as they age was the biggest worry of four per cent of men.
Once the damage is done, there is very little you can do to reverse it. There are only a limited number of successful treatments for baldness available to try. Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is hereditary and partly caused by male sex hormones.
There are new treatments available such as Propecia and Dutesteride but even with these treatments, the weakened hair will continue to fall out once you cease treatment.
Hair isnít the only aspect of your appearance that smoking can affect. Exposure to tobacco smoke is also associated with other signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and grey hair.