How smoking affects your hair

By • Published: August 27th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Science may have finally discovered a way to prevent those pesky premature grays and slow time’s attack on your hairline. And no, this doesn’t involve maintaining a stockpile of hair coloring or rubbing some smelly miracle ointment on your balding head, either.

All you have to do to reap the benefits of a better, younger head of hair is… stop smoking. Well, maybe.

Aside from upping the odds you’ll battle cancer or develop heart disease, every puff of smoke you inhale seems to put your delicate hair follicles more at risk of falling out or losing their youthful color.

The relationship between smoking, gray hair and baldness isn’t new. A 1996 study linked smoking to a higher incidence of hair loss and gray hair and other studies have showed similar findings in animals.

Researchers in Taiwan recently discovered a link between smoking and one of the most common causes of baldness, alopecia [aloe-PEE-shee-ah], also known as male-pattern baldness. This condition affects about half of men.

And it’s not just your hair that’s affected. Smoking also increases premature sagging and wrinkles in skin.

Why? Researchers think toxins interfere with the body from the inside out, causing premature aging. University of Rochester scientists say these toxins seem to damage a gene that staves off undue aging.

It’s true. You can’t stop time from taking its toll on your scalp or the rest of your body. But you don’t need to give it fuel for the invasion, either.