We all know that heavy alcohol consumption can contribute to a host of physical ailments, including liver damage, pancreatitis, pancreatitis, digestive issues, heart disease, hypertension, and pretty much anything else you could imagine.
But did you know that if you are a heavy a drinker and suffering from hair loss that it could be a contributing factor?
The two most common “normal” and scientifically agreed upon reasons for hair loss are heredity and stress. That is, hair loss problems such as alopecia and male pattern baldness both have heritable genetic traits. Also, research has found that stress can cause loss of hair, and even bald patches.
Moreover, if you are heavy drinker and suffering from hair loss, other reasons, such as aging, simple genetics, or other lifestyle factors may also be causing or contributing to the problem.
Alcohol and Hair Loss
There are several reasons why alcohol and hair loss are linked.
#1: Heavy alcohol consumption can affect zinc levels as well, and drinking alcohol reduces zinc in the body. Zinc is critical for hair growth.
Zinc and/or iron deficiencies are common among alcoholics, and both minerals are used in the process of keratization. Kertatization is the formation of keratin, a protein, which makes up the hair follicle.
These deficiencies can cause stunted hair growth, as well as decrease the size of hair follicle, thus making them more prone to falling out.
#2: Heavy alcohol consumption can cause a decrease in folic acid levels, which is another nutrient vital for strong, healthy hair. Moreover, alcohol can interfere with folic acid absorption and increased excretion of folic acid in the urine. A lack of folic acid can cause limp, brittle hair.
#3: Heavy alcohol consumption leads to dehydration, which can cause dandruff and dry, brittle hair. Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning that it increases urine production, resulting in dehydration. This effect may also contribute to hangovers, dry skin, and dry eyes.
Regarding hair follicles, however, dehydration can make them brittle and dry – these damaged follicles are much more susceptible to falling out. In addition, dandruff can develop, which can further exacerbate hair loss issues.
#4: Heavy alcohol consumption can cause liver damage, resulting in toxin build up in the the blood. The liver’s main functions are to remove toxins from the blood and produce digestive bile.
Alcohol’s harmful effects on the liver can thus also contribute to other health problems.
Heavy drinking and binge drinking results in a overworked liver – and then, dehydration can make exacerbate the problem because toxins are present in higher concentration due to a lack of water in the body.
Blood toxins are then free to circulate around the body, and possibly to lead to hair follicle damage, as well as a myriad of other issues.
The liver’s bile production can be hindered if it is damaged, and poor digestion can result in decreased nutrient intake – nutrients necessary for health hair, for example. To add to this, many severe alcoholics generally suffer from malnutrition for this and other reasons.
#5: Heavy alcohol consumption results in the intake of preservatives and harmful additives. These extra components can indirectly affect hair.
Most alcohol formulations include some type of preservatives or artificial additives. These preservatives are used to kill bacteria in the drink, but they can also kill good bacteria in your gut. A decrease in healthy bacteria can cause many health-related problems that lead to hair loss.
#6: Heavy alcohol consumption reduces the quality of sleep, and increases stress. It’s true that alcohol is a sedative, but it only effective in small to moderate amounts.
Drinking heavily reduces REM sleep, the highest quality of sleep, which humans needs to fully function well. A reduction in good quality sleep often results in fatigue, irritability, and anxiety. Anxiety and stress, as noted, is linked to hair loss.
#7: Heavy alcohol consumption can affect the levels of estrogen in the human body. Excess estrogen can cause hair loss. A 1996 study found that an estrogen blocking compound caused hair growth.
Thus, this evidence also suggests that increased estrogen levels, particularly with male pattern baldness, can reduce hair growth.
Treating The Alcohol And Hair Loss Connection
Taking supplements, such as zinc and iron may help, as well as eating a balanced diet, and drinking lots of water. However, nothing can truly undo the damage done to your body caused by alcohol, at least not while you are still consuming it on a regular basis.
If you are suffering from hair loss or other health issues due to drinking, your best bet, of course, is to abstain or cut back. If you cannot, you should seek professional health in the form of addiction and/or behavioral specialists and therapy.