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Hair Loss And Alcohol: Is There A Link?

Although there are many causes of hair loss, which can be brought on by hormonal changes, your diet, or even stress and anxiety, one lifestyle factor that many people will commonly link to hair loss is alcohol.

Most of us will enjoy the odd alcoholic drink during a cosy evening in, or on a night out with friends, but could this habit be bringing on hair loss faster than we’d like? In this article, we’ll look at whether there is any evidence to suggest a correlation between alcohol and hair loss.

Can drinking alcohol cause hair loss?

Currently, there are few studies that have established a direct link between alcohol consumption and hair loss. This is good news for those of you who enjoy an occasional drink every now and then. But there is some evidence that alcohol may be linked to certain hair loss conditions.

One study found that excessive alcohol consumption and smoking can make you appear older than you look — but found no link between alcohol and male pattern baldness specifically [1]. On the other hand, a later study shows that there may be a link between high alcohol consumption and alopecia areata [2].

However, just because the amount of studies that prove a direct correlation is limited, it doesn’t mean that excessive drinking can’t contribute to hair loss through the other effects it has on your body.

Effects of alcohol on the body

We all know that drinking too much alcohol isn’t good for our bodies. It can have a range of physical and mental effects.
Here are some of the effects alcohol can have on you and why it could potentially trigger hair loss.

Alcohol can cause nutritional deficiencies

When you’re drinking too much on a regular basis, alcohol can reduce the number of digestive enzymes released by your pancreas [3], which prevents your body from being able to effectively break down and absorb the nutrients contained in the food you eat.

Some of the key nutrients that your body can become deficient in over time include zinc, copper, iron, and protein. This lack of nutrients may lead to hair shedding if you develop a deficiency. If you are deficient in any of these nutrients, you could think about taking a hair loss supplement.

Some studies have found that iron may be a factor in certain cases of female hair loss [4]. Similarly, a 2013 study found that zinc deficiency may contribute to hair loss [5], especially in cases of alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, female pattern hair loss, and male pattern balding.

Alcohol often leads to smoking

Alcohol is a recognised trigger for social smoking, which can bring a whole new range of adverse side effects for people. One study estimates that 62% of smokers identify as social smokers [6].

According to one study [7], smokers are far more likely to experience hair loss than people who haven’t touched a cigarette. Learn more about smoking and hair loss.

Alcohol can cause thyroid problems

Drinking too heavily on a regular basis can affect the functioning of our thyroid glands [8]. Thyroid glands are responsible for regulating a variety of bodily functions – including hair growth and hair shedding.

In some cases of hypo- and hyperthyroidism, people may see hair loss and thinning across the whole scalp, although this is normally only observed in very severe cases.

Alcohol impacts your mental health

Alcohol dependence has been strongly linked with mental health conditions like anxiety and depression [9-10]. Both conditions can lead to telogen effluvium — a type of temporary hair loss that usually regrows when the underlying cause is addressed.

Learn more about anxiety-related hair loss and depression-related hair loss.

How else can alcohol affect your body?

The underlying point is that alcohol is not good for your body. Even if it doesn’t directly cause hair loss, it can cause a range of issues that can potentially end up triggering hair loss.

Conditions like rosacea, scalp psoriasis, anxiety, and depression are all linked to hair loss, and can be exacerbated by alcohol.

How to prevent alcohol-related hair loss

If you’re worried that your drinking habits are affecting your hair growth, the best way to tackle this is by limiting your alcohol consumption.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the average person should have no more than 1-2 alcoholic drinks per day.

Other things that can help you to prevent the chances of hair loss include taking medication, using caffeine shampoo for hair loss, eating a balanced diet, and trying to reduce the amount of stress you feel in your day-to-day life.

Making healthy lifestyle choices also helps keep you in shape and has a positive impact on your quality of life.

What else can I do to prevent hair loss?

Hair loss isn’t something you just have to deal with. There are plenty of things that you can do to reduce your risk of going bald.

The most important thing is cutting down on your alcohol intake. Many people who suffer from alcohol-related hair loss may notice hair growth again once they stop drinking as much.

If you do cut down on your alcohol consumption and are still experiencing hair loss, we’d recommend seeing a hair loss specialist. They can diagnose your condition and advise you on the best treatment options.

Book a no-obligation consultation call with one of our hair loss specialists to find out more.

Hair Loss And Alcohol: Is There A Link?, Wimpole Clinic

Sources:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29114032/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8835065/
  3. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/aa22.htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3678013/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3870206/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3110219/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12673073/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3743356/
  9. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.571084/full
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3658562/
  11. https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm 
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