A new research has found a positive correlation between the air pollution and the extent of hair loss.
A large chunk of the world population faces hair fall at some point in their lives. Around 85% of men lose a significant amount of hair after the age of 50. In fact, Androgenetic alopecia, a condition that causes hair loss in both men and women, affects around 30 million women and 50 million men, in US only.
Although the causes of hair fall are unknown, scientists believe genetics, paired with several environmental factors play a major role.
A new research has looked into air pollution as a potential cause of the problem and found some promising results.
The lead author of the study, Hyuk Chul Kwon, along with his team from the Future Science Research Centre in the Republic of Korea, presented their findings at the 28th European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology (EADV) Congress.
“EADV is a leading community to further the knowledge of health professionals and advocates in the field of dermatology and venereology”. The next conference is to be held in Madrid, Spain, from 9-13 October.
The research paper, titled “Effects of particulate matter on human dermal papilla”, explored the effects of particulate matter – made of different chemicals, liquid droplets and solid particles, on the human follicle dermal papilla cells (HFDPCs) present at the base of the hair.
The team exposed HFDPCs to PM-10 (inhalable particles, with diameters of < 10 micrometers) like particles of dust and diesel. After 24 hours, Western blotting analysis was used to analyze different protein levels.
The experiment revealed a significant decrease in beta-catenin protein levels – which is essential for hair growth. The particulates also lowered the levels of cyclin D1, cyclin E and CDK2 – proteins that determine hair growth and hair retention.
“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.
Moreover, the study showed a positive relation between the amount of pollution with the extent of hair fall. The more the particulate matter, lower were the protein levels.
According to Kwon, “While the link between air pollution and serious diseases such as cancer, [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease], and [cardiovascular disease] are well established, there is little to no research on the effect of particulate matter exposure on the human skin and hair in particular”. He further added, “Our research explains the mode of action of air pollutants on [HFDPCs], showing how the most common air pollutants lead to hair loss.”