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)
- high blood pressure
- 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.