Female Hair Loss Caused By More Than Genes

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Hair loss is usually thought of as a problem afflicting men but it also affects women, many of who usually don’t respond as well to it. Genetics play a large role in the risk of female hair loss. However, a new study published in the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ (ASPS) official journal, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, suggests that female hairloss is caused by more than genetics.

According to the researchers, there are several other factors that contribute to women’s hair loss. "Increased stress, smoking, having more children and having a history of hypertension and cancer were all associated with increased hair thinning," Cleveland plastic surgeon Bahman Guyuron, MD and colleagues of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland report in their study.

For their research, the team studied 98 identical female twins, with an average age of 54. Conducting the study on identical twins provided an opportunity to distinguish genetic and social/environmental factors since they share 100 percent of genes.

The researchers found that higher testosterone and stress levels were both associated with increased hair loss. Medical risk factors were also identified such as cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. Additionally, smoking, not exercising and not using sun protection also increased risk. Interestingly enough, women who consumed more caffeine were at lower risk. 

The good news is, not all of these factors are out of your control like your genetic disposition. "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 authors conclude.

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  • bette
    Posted on

    I had extremely thick, coarse hair my whole life. Stick Straight. In my late 20s, I'd go on these 'hair-brained' diets which would rob my hair of nutrients, thus causing fall out. Although much of my hair has returned in the last few decades, it's not like it was. About 4 years ago I began taking fairly large doses of biotin tablets. It's measured in micrograms. I take one 300 mc in the morning, one 300 mc with dinner, and then with my nightly vitamins and minerals, I take a 5,000 mc, one 300 mc and then a one day which has about 30 mc in it. My hair has come back and is great condition. I never miss my Biotin. Total, I'm taking 5,930 mc daily. My hair still has some thinning, but even my eye lashes are better. My hair dresser is so impressed she takes it and has had growth.

  • Sarah
    Posted on

    I am now 37 and my hair has been thinning since my early teens (or as long as I can remember). I didn't realize it was normal to have handfuls of hair come out because it's all I ever knew. I have been to countless doctors and have had numerous tests, all to no avail other than low ferritin stores. I got my iron levels up to normal and still no relief. I feel like I have tried absolutely everything and feel hopeless and depressed. It's definitely toying with my self-esteem. Are there any new treatments out there or any on the horizon?

  • Dr. Samuel Lam
    Posted on

    This is an interesting article in terms of standardizing against genetics. I believe that there are so many complex issues at work when evaluating women. I almost always get prescreening evaluations on women with hair loss including evaluating iron levels, hormone levels, thyroid, and autoimmune levels as a basic first start. you can't assume that it is just genetic or normal postmenopausal condition before considering a surgical intervention.

  • Lianna
    Posted on

    Do these same factors also affect hair thinning?

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