Studies on identical twins support the idea of alcohol as a factor which exacerbates male pattern baldness. Since twins have the exact same genetic makeup, one might expect them to show the same progression of hair loss. But in fact, the twin who consumed regular and higher amounts of alcohol actually showed much more pronounced baldness or thinning.
Moderate social drinking is most likely not an issue. But heavy and excessive consumption on a regular basis can impair overall health and general functioning of the body. Among other processes, alcohol can interfere with:
- Cell reproduction
- Energy and resource usage
- Nutritional uptake
- Water balance
The body invests more energy and resources trying to clear alcohol from its system. This makes it less able to perform normal functions properly. These effects can ultimately be detrimental to the hair follicles. Therefore, any type of comprehensive hair loss treatment program will benefit from the lowered intake of alcohol.
Indirect Connection between Alcohol and Hair Loss: Nutritional Links
A link between alcohol and hair loss can be made indirectly. Alcohol is believed to worsen the loss of hair by affecting the availability of nutrition as well stores within the body.
Specific deficiencies which are particularly relevant to hair health include:
Iron is an element that is used in the formation of hemoglobin within the body. Hemoglobin is what carries oxygen throughout the bloodstream to cells. While deficiencies can lead to higher rates of hair shedding in both sexes, women tend to be more affected compared to men.
Zinc is needed to maintain many types of cellular processes and requires daily intake. Alcohol can interfere with the absorption of this mineral.
Other nutrients important for hair follicles that are likely to be impacted by alcohol consumption include: vitamin A, vitamin B12 and calcium
Loss of Hair – Alcohol’s Role As A Diuretic
Alcohol is a diuretic. It is treated as a toxin by the body. More water is expelled from tissues than usual as an attempt to flush it out of the system. This results in frequent urination which then dehydrates the cells. Without a proper balance of water, it becomes more difficult for the body to absorb nutrients.
Furthermore, less water causes hair to become dry and brittle since the shafts themselves are made of 25% water.
Should You Be Worried About Losing Hair to Heavy Drinking?
Excessive alcohol consumption can certainly contribute to unwanted loss of hair.
What is considered to be too much alcohol is subjective to different individuals. However, the Department of Health provided some general guidelines to define certain parameters. Past these limits, alcohol can present serious damage to the body.
- Men should consume no more than 4 units a day or 21 units a week
- Women should limit intake to no more than 2-3 units a day or 14 units a week
In the United States, one unit is defined as 0.6 fluid ounces or 14 grams of pure alcohol. However, these definitions vary across different countries.
Possible association between alcoholism treatment with Finasteride