Can Smoking Cause Hair Loss?

Thinning hair and baldness are common among men. A fair number of women also lose some or all of their hair. The most common cause is a genetic predisposition, known as androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. However, it is known that other causes exist. This has prompted many to ask, “Can smoking cause hair loss?”.

There are two different schools of thought on this subject. The most commonly accepted theory is that cigarette smoke can, indeed, cause one to lose his hair. There are some, on the other hand, who believe that it does not directly cause the problem but that it can become a complication that accelerates the process.

Most are aware that this habit has been shown to have serious repercussions on one’s overall health. It is known that smoke contains almost 4000 different chemicals and toxins. Many of these have been linked to health issues such as cancer. However, a link with thinning or balding has remained tenuous until recently.

A study was recently conducted using mice that were exposed to cigarette smoke over an extended period of time. All of the test subjects showed signs of rapid aging and began to lose their hairs. Human subjects living near industrial areas have shown many of the same signs. Therefore, it has been determined that chemicals present in both cigarette smoke and industrial pollution do contribute to loss.

How this occurs is not entirely understood. One theory is that carbon monoxide replaces the oxygen in the blood and prevents the proper oxygenation of the cells making up the follicles. Other chemicals present interfere with the proper exchange of nutrients and waste products at the cellular level, damaging the follicles and preventing proper growth.

Some say that the premature aging experienced by smokers is the real culprit. They believe that only those with a genetic predisposition toward thinning or balding are affected by the smoke. Followers of this school of thought claim that smoking may accelerate the process, but it is not the causative factor.

Whether one believes that the answer to the question, “Does smoking cause hair loss?” is “yes” or “no”, the fact remains that it does affect the follicles in some manner. For this reason, among many others, it is best to never start smoking in the first place. For those who do smoke, quitting is strongly recommended in order to save their tresses as well as their lives.

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