Most people are aware that smoking tobacco increases their chance of developing a respiratory illness or lung cancer. But tobacco use has negative health consequences other than your lungs.
Research has shown that tobacco contains thousands of chemicals, nearly 70 of which have been shown to cause cancer. When you inhale these chemicals, they enter your bloodstream through your lungs. Once they enter the bloodstream, they can travel throughout your body and have a negative impact on many aspects of your health.
One lesser-known side effect of smoking is an increased risk of developing hair loss. While researchers are not sure why smoking tobacco can lead to hair loss, it's believed that there are several contributing factors.
How Smoking Can Cause Hair Loss
Research suggests that tobacco has the potential to damage your hair follicles, thereby increasing your risk of experiencing thinning hair and hair loss. For example, a 2020 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology compared the prevalence of early-onset androgenetic alopecia, or male-pattern baldness, in men who were smokers and nonsmokers between the ages of 20 and 35.
Researchers found that out of 500 smokers, 425 experienced some degree of hair loss compared to only 200 of 500 nonsmokers. From these results, researchers concluded that nicotine and related chemicals found in tobacco products might be responsible for accelerating hair loss among smokers. In addition, the study found that smoking may cause oxidative stress and inhibit blood flow to your hair follicles, thereby contributing to hair loss.
Oxidative stress occurs when there are excessive free radicals in your body. Free radicals are molecules that interact with other molecules in your body and have the potential to damage the DNA of your cells. Smoking tobacco is known to increase the production of free radicals in your body. In addition to tobacco smoke, oxidative stress can be caused by several factors, including pollution, radiation, and ultraviolet rays.
Researchers believe that the toxic chemicals found in tobacco may damage the DNA in the cells of your hair follicles. Damage to the cells of your hair follicles can impair the growth of your hair and cause thinning hair or hair loss. Further research has discovered that hair follicle cells of balding scalps are especially susceptible to oxidative stress.
Reduced Blood Flow to Your Hair Follicles
The chemicals found in tobacco have been shown to reduce your circulation and negatively impact your cardiovascular health. According to the FDA, smoking can cause plaque to build up in your blood vessels, raising your risk of developing medical conditions such as blood clots, heart attacks, or stroke.
Blood flow to your hair follicles is vital for the delivery of vitamins and nutrients needed for healthy hair growth. Reduced blood flow to the scalp has the potential to inhibit hair growth and cause thinning hair or hair loss.
Can Smoking Cause Hair Loss?
When you smoke tobacco products, many chemicals enter your bloodstream through your lungs and travel throughout your body. These chemicals can negatively impact your body, including causing hair loss.
Smoking can affect your hair's growth in several ways, including reducing blood flow and damaging the DNA in your hair follicles. However, quitting smoking can improve your health in many ways and may help you achieve a limited amount of hair regrowth.
If you are concerned about thinning hair or hair loss, our team of experts can help with looking at potential causes and suggest options that can help you with your hair loss, such as laser hair therapy, hair restoration systems, wigs, and more. Contact us today for your FREE initial consultation to learn more about how our team of experts at New Image Hair Clinic can help with your thinning hair or hair loss.