Stress and Medical Factors Involved in Female Hair Loss

It’s more than just hormones – there are a variety of factors responsible for hair loss in women, including genetics, health, and lifestyle factors, according to a recent study in the latest issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Researchers found that high stress levels, smoking, hypertension, and cancer have all been associated with increased hair thinning.

Higher levels of testosterone have been associated with female pattern hair loss for many years. The hormone often causes hair loss of the sides and top of the head. Researchers have also known for a long time that genetics play an important role in hair loss. However, other risk factors for female hair loss have not been fully understood.

With this most recent study, researchers were able to eliminate the genetic variable by studying 98 identical twins. By comparing their lifestyle and medical factors, as well as measuring the twins’ testosterone levels, the researchers were able to measure the impact of non-genetic and non-hormonal factors.

Environmental and Medical Risk Factors for Hair Loss

  • higher levels of stress (often linked to separation or divorce, multiple marriages, and more children)
  • higher income levels
  • prolonged sleep (possibly related to depression/anxiety, as well as stress)
  • cancer
  • high blood pressure
  • diabetes
  • smoking
  • lack of exercise
  • not using sun protection

Interestingly, the researchers found that women with a higher caffeine intake were actually at a lower risk of hair loss. This may be because caffeine counteracts the hormonal effects that can lead to hair loss.

The researchers concluded that women can decrease their risk of hair loss by reducing some risk factors. While many genetic and medical factors can be very difficult to change, women can start to reduce their risk by working on lifestyle factors, like smoking and stress.

Dr. Joseph Murray, Transplant Pioneer and Nobel Laureate, Dies at 93

One of the shining stars of plastic surgery is gone. Dr. Joseph E. Murray, who performed the world’s first successful kidney transplant and received a Nobel Prize for his work, died late last month at the age of 93. Dr. Murray died on November 26 after suffering a stroke at his Boston home on Thanksgiving.

Like many plastic surgeons of his time, Murray had a military background, and performed reconstructive surgeries on troops who had been injured on the front. Burn patients were often treated with skin grafts from other people, and the fact that skin grafts tended to be more successful when donors and recipients were closely related was a matter of great interest to Dr. Murray. As he wrote his autobiography for the Nobel Prize ceremony, “The slow rejection of the foreign skin grafts fascinated me. How could the host distinguish another person’s skin from his own?”

After the war, Dr. Murray went to work at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital, which is now known as Brigham and Women’s Hospital. He and his colleagues developed a number of new surgical techniques through successful kidney transplant in dogs. In 1954, Dr. Murray and his team successfully transplanted kidney from 23-year-old Ronald Herrick to his twin brother Richard Herrick, who was suffering from end-stage kidney failure.

Dr. Murray continued to perform transplants on identical twins. As far as transplant operations go, identical twins present the least amount of risk – since the transplanted organs are genetically identical to the host body, there is no risk of foreign tissue rejection. Dr. Murray added to the growing body of knowledge on immunosuppression by performing kidney transplants on close relatives. With the development of immunosuppressive drugs, he was able to move beyond radiation therapy, and performed the first organ transfer from an unrelated donor in 1962.

Throughout the rest of his career, Dr. Murray continued to practice plastic surgery and the transplant surgeries that he had pioneered. In 1990, he shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or Medicine with E. Donnall Thomas, who had developed bone marrow transplantation as a treatment for leukemia.

Image credit: Harvard Medical School Archives

Pokertox: Less a Procedure, More a Punchline

Using Botox and dermal fillers to enhance a poker player’s ability to conceal their emotions? It sounds like the premise of an SNL sketch, but a doctor of aesthetic medicine in New York has been marketing the procedure, which he has dubbed “Pokertox.” But based on feedback from professional poker players interviewed by the Huffington Post, this might be one gamble that the doctor will come to regret.

In poker, the ability to hide facial emotions is extremely valuable, as other players are always on the lookout for clues about what type of hand you hold. These unconscious signals – known as “tells” – can change the course of a game. Dr. Jack Berdy is betting that many poker players might benefit from procedures that can minimize the appearance of such signals.

“Some people might get a card they like or don’t like and raise their eyebrows,” he told The Huffington Post. “If that’s the common reaction, we can put Botox in certain areas to minimize them… We can also put Botox in areas to make it look like the player has a ‘tell’ they really don’t have.”

So far, poker players and other surgeons haven’t been particularly impressed. “The game has moved on from bluffs, and is more analytical these days,” World Poker Tour competitor Josh Hale said in an interview. “Players might look at physical tells, but they are relying more on betting patterns and bet sizing.”

“Plastic surgery is expensive,” Jay Melancon, a long-time poker player, said. “You’d have to play in very high-stakes games to make it worth it, and if you have a ‘tell’ that is that obvious, you shouldn’t be playing in those games.”

But the real zinger goes to a cosmetic doctor from California: “My first thought is that it is sad an internist can’t earn enough that they have to resort to doing Botox and fillers with a gimmick.”

Image credit: Pokeravond, Wikimedia Commons

Men’s Mid- Abdominal Fat- The Beer Belly Syndrome

Darshan Shah, MD is CEO Medical Director of Beautologie Medical Group and a Bakersfield, Malibu and Fresno Plastic Surgeon specializing in breast and body surgery.

 

Milan Shah, MD is the director of Beautologie Medspa and Aesthetic Medicine Specialist in Bakersfield, CA.

 

The beer belly, it’s a man’s curse.   It starts in our thirties, and then grows like a uncontrollable tumor for the next 30 years with every frosty cool one.  But the beer belly is more than just an unsightly problem that forces us to go up in belt sizes.  It can be a sign of hidden killers lurking inside.

 

Recent studies have shown that men are much more likely to gain weight around the waist more than women.  Weight gain in this specific area is correlated with severe health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, cancer, high triglycerides, sleep apnea and even cancer. 

 

Why does the beer belly phenomenon occur?  There are two main reasons: 1) as men age, our mid abdominal muscles weaken and lose mass.   This causes intra-abdominal contents (your intestines and organs) to push outwards and 2) men have a large omentum (the fat that is wrapped around your intestines to protect them), which tends to gain mass more rapidly than the fat else where in our bodies.  The combination of weak muscles and increased intra-abdominal mass pushing outwards gives the abdomen the appearance of a round, bulging beer keg. 

 

The best way to test if you have too much belly fat is something you can easily do at home- measure your waist just above your hipbone.  If your waist diameter is over 40, you are at higher risk for any of the above health concerns.

 

The key to understanding what to do about this problem is having a good knowledge of what causes it in the first place.  Although genetics has a minor role, the rapid gain in intra-abdominal fat in our 40’s is due to slowing metabolism, increased alcohol intake, and high caloric diets.  Combine this with a lack of exercise and core strengthening, and you have the perfect recipe for a new size 42 belt!

 

Here is a simple three-step program to reduce your risk of serious health concerns, and get into shape before the summer swimming pool season:

 

Step 1:  Reduce Calories.  The best way for men to do this is portion control.  Take half your dinner order home for lunch the next day, use a smaller plate, share your food, and replace calorie dense foods with healthier veggies and proteins.  And, yes, drink less beer.

 

Step 2: Increase your physical activity.  Most days we don’t realize how sedentary we are.  The Nike Fuel Band is something I use to keep my activity level on track!  I set a goal for 3000 Fuel points a day, and If I am not there by the end of the day, I go for a walk with the dog before dinner.

 

Step 3: Sit-ups.  No way around it.    You need to tighten those mid abdominal muscles by working your way up to 100 sit ups a day.

 

It takes hard work, discipline and deduction, but the benefits are doubled:  you get to wear slim fit jeans and reduce your chances of serious health disease in the future!

 

California Medical Board Investigating Fake Doctors

The Medical Board of California is stepping up investigations on people posing as doctors in order to reap profits from risky procedures, according to a recent report on ABC News 10. The investigative unit that targets these kinds of cases, called Operation Safe Medicine, has seen a near-doubling of cases over the past fiscal year – up to 61 from 31.

What types of cases has Operation Safe Medicine uncovered?

Fake medical professionals present many risks to their “patients,” and in many cases, people’s lives have been put at risk. In one case, a woman from Encinitas is accused of having posed as a doctor of naturopathy. After diagnosing patients with Lyme disease, she prescribed injections of bovine stem cells and dimethyl sulfoxide. After several infusions, one patient grew so ill that she was hospitalized for six weeks.

Another case involves a San Francisco man who is accused of performing liposuction while smoking a cigar. Prosecutors allege that the man operated with no assistant and had the client hold her own intravenous bag while he performed the procedure. There also been cases based on laser fungus removal, childbirth, facelifts, and hemorrhoid surgery.

What action is being taken against fake medical professionals?

The report released by the medical board calls for more staff to launch a unit in Northern California. The current Operation Safe Medicine is a six-person team based in Southern California. According to Jennifer Simoes, the medical board’s chief of legislation, “the Board believes that the OSM Unit is imperative in order to protect the public from the actions of unlicensed practitioners.”

How can Californians stay safe?

In the liposuction case, the accused had assumed the identity of the physician assistant with a similar name. Almost anyone can open a storefront and claim to be licensed or certified to perform medical procedures. Before seeking treatment with a medical professional, make sure that you check up on their qualifications, especially if you are not introduced to them through a professional referral. Above all, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.