Smoking tobacco can potentially damage your hair follicles and increase your risk of developing hair loss.The increased risk of hair loss is one of the lesser-known negative effects of smoking. Although the specific cause of hair loss is unknown, various variables are likely to play a role.
According to a 2018 study, tobacco smoke contains over 7,000 compounds, with at least 69 of them proven to cause cancer. These substances can pass from your lungs to your bloodstream when you inhale them. They can spread from your blood to other parts of your body and have a harmful impact on many elements of your health.Researchers found that 425 out of 500 smokers had some degree of hair loss while only 200 of 500 nonsmokers showed signs of hair loss.
Smoking may also cause oxidative stress and reduced blood flow to your hair follicles that may contribute to hair loss. Furthermore, chemicals in tobacco can also negatively impact your circulation and cardiovascular health. Impaired blood flow to your scalp can potentially lead to hair loss or hair damage. In a 2018 research review found that cells in the hair follicles of balding scalps are particularly sensitive to oxidative stress.
When your body’s free radical activity is too high, it causes oxidative stress. All of the following can lead to oxidative stress:
- tobacco smoke
- ultraviolet rays
Other ways smoking may contribute to hair loss
Other changes in your body that contribute to hair loss may occur as a result of smoking. Some of the factors that have been proposed include:
- promoting the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, signaling proteins that promote inflammation
- scarring of your hair follicles due to increased levels of cytokines
- changing enzyme levels that control tissue remodeling in your hair growth cycle
- increasing hydroxylation of the hormone estradiol and inhibition of the enzyme aromatase that leads to a state of low estrogen levels
Other ways smoking cigarettes affects the health of your hair
- Early onset of gray hair
- Poor hair transplants.
- Potentially makes hair more brittle.
- Potentially makes hair drier.
The researchers concluded that nicotine and related chemicals might be responsible for accelerating hair loss, but more research is needed to back this theory.