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Health, Lifestyle Factors Affect Alopecia in Women

hair transplant modelFactors related to high stress levels especially notable in study of hair loss in identical twins

If stress has you ready to pull out your hair, you may be at a bigger risk of losing it anyway, according to a study in the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. After evaluating 98 sets of identical twins, the study identified high levels of stress as putting women at an increased risk for alopecia (the medical term for hair loss or balding). Other risk factors include certain medical conditions, smoking, lack of exercise and not using adequate sun protection.

The risk of alopecia in women is affected not only by genetics, but also by a wide range of health and lifestyle factors, the study found. Though typically regarded as a problem for men, hair loss and balding can also occur in women and may cause even more psychological distress.

Studying identical twins allows researchers to evaluate non-genetic factors

Dr. Bahman Guyuron and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine studied 98 pairs of female twins with an average age of 54 years. Since they share 100% of genes, studying identical twins provides an opportunity to separate genetic factors from social and environmental factors.

As expected, higher testosterone levels were associated with increased hair loss. This finding was consistent with the hormonal causes of female pattern hair loss.

High-stress life situations were also connected to alopecia in women, in addition to medical conditions, smoking, not getting enough exercise and not protecting your skin from the sun.

The study confirms the impact of hormonal causes for female hair loss while also highlighting the contribution of various health and lifestyle related risk factors, many of them related to high stress levels.

“Many of the environmental factors discussed in this study such as smoking, sun exposure and excessive stress can be targeted by both patients and physicians as potential ways to augment hair loss prevention strategies,” the study said.

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Source: American Society of Plastic Surgeons

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