Air pol­lu­tants may kill hair fol­li­cles, make men go bald

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Trends - Peter Stub­ley

Air pol­lu­tion could cause hair loss, ac­cord­ing to a study that tested the ef­fect of dust and fuel par­ti­cles on hu­man scalp cells. Re­searchers found that ex­po­sure to com­mon pol­lu­tants re­duced the lev­els of four pro­teins re­spon­si­ble for hair growth and hair re­ten­tion. It also showed that the ef­fect in­creased when the amount of air­borne par­ti­cles in­creased — sug­gest­ing that those liv­ing in cities or close to in­dus­trial works are at greater risk of go­ing bald.

The study, which was funded by a South Ko­rean cos­met­ics com­pany, is said to be the first to find a re­la­tion­ship be­tween air­borne pol­lu­tants and hair loss. How­ever, lead re­searcher Hyuk Chul Kwok, who re­vealed the re­sults at the 28th Euro­pean Academy of Der­ma­tol­ogy and Venere­ol­ogy Congress in Madrid, said fur­ther re­search was re­quired to con­firm the ef­fect out­side the lab­o­ra­tory. “Our re­search looked at the sci­ence be­hind what hap­pens when the cells found at the base of hair fol­li­cles are ex­posed to com­mon air pol­lu­tants,” he said.

“When the cells on the hu­man scalp were ex­posed to com­mon air pol­lu­tants cre­ated from burn­ing fos­sil fu­els, the pro­teins in the cells that are re­spon­si­ble for hair growth and hair re­ten­tion were sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced,” said Hyuk Chul Kwon.

“The more pol­lu­tants that the cells were ex­posed to, the big­ger this im­pact seemed to be... There­fore, the re­sults sug­gest that par­tic­u­late mat­ter may cause hair loss.” The study did not con­sider any po­ten­tial dif­fer­ences in hair loss be­tween gen­ders or ages.

Air pol­lu­tion cam­paigner Jenny Bates, from Friends of the Earth, said: “This is the lat­est in a long se­quence of sci­en­tific ev­i­dence show­ing the dis­turb­ing im­pact of air pol­lu­tion on our bod­ies and health. “Peo­ple need to be helped to switch to less pol­lut­ing forms of trans­port. We need cleaner ve­hi­cles on our roads, and fewer of them, and greater in­vest­ment in bet­ter pub­lic trans­port and safer cy­cling and walk­ing. “This will not only cre­ate cleaner and health­ier towns and cities — it will slash cli­mate-wreck­ing emis­sions too,” she said.

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