Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Connection Found Between Air Pollution and Baldness

by David Wilkes
Daily Mail
May 5, 2008

To the follicly-challenged who've tried gels, drugs and even a transplant with little joy, the research will come as a breath of fresh air.

A study suggests men living in polluted areas are more likely to go bald than those who enjoy a cleaner atmosphere.

The discovery raises the prospect that yet more treatments for the often confidence-sapping condition could be developed.

Academics at the University of London linked the onset of male pattern baldness to environmental factors, such as air pollution and smoking.

They believe toxins and carcinogens found in polluted air can stop hair growing by blocking mechanisms that produce the protein from which hair is made.

Baldness is known to be hereditary but the research suggests environmental factors could exacerbate hair loss.

Male-pattern baldness, which affects two-thirds of men, usually develops gradually, typically starting with the appearance of a bald spot in the crown and thinning of the temples.

Although it can strike at any time, many men first become aware of it as they approach their 30s.

The study, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, involved removing hair follicles from balding men and then studying the samples in laboratories.

Mike Philpott, from the school of medicine at Queen Mary, University of London, said: "We think any pollutant that can get into the bloodstream or into the skin and into the hair follicle could cause some stress to it and impair the ability of the hair to make a fibre.

"There are a whole host of carcinogens and toxins in the environment that could trigger this.

"It suggests that if you stop smoking or live in an area with less air pollution, you may be less predisposed to hair loss.

"There is an inherited basis to hair loss, but we are have now identified environmental factors that are important too."

The research raises the hope that scientists may be able to develop treatments for balding men such as creams that are able to combat the effects of pollution on hair follicles.

The team plans to conduct further tests to pinpoint precise factors which may cause baldness, including trying to grow hair in different environments that are rich in nicotine and other pollutants found in air.

©2008 Associated Newspapers Ltd


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