Lung cancer is usually the first side effect that comes to mind when considering the harms of smoking cigarettes. But lung cancer isn’t the only problem associated with smoking; stroke, brain damage, tooth decay, cataracts, loss of smell and taste, and other cancers affecting the nose, lip, tongue, and mouth are also potential internal ailments following long-term smoking. Consider also the external side effects of smoking, which include premature aging, skin damage, and hair loss.
The Prevalence of Smoking in America
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tobacco is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States (i). More than 480,000 deaths are caused by smoking each year in America, with more than 41,000 attributed to the inhalation of secondhand smoke.
Even though it’s been widely advertised as a harmful and potentially deadly habit, 17.8 percent of U.S. adults still smoke cigarettes. About 76% of those, or about 32 million, continue to smoke everyday, significantly increasing their risk for tobacco-related diseases.
Smoking and Hair Loss
Inhaling cigarette smoke exposes the human body to over 4,000 chemicals, including 43 known carcinogenic compounds. Nicotine, tar, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, arsenic, and DDT are all present in some of the biggest tobacco brands. Given the high exposure to such toxins, the body reacts in a variety of different ways to tobacco inhalation.
Here are the top four reasons smoking causes hair loss:
- Smoking reduces circulation to the scalp, which inhibits follicle revitalization and hair growth.
- Smoking cigarettes pollutes the blood with toxins that target your body’s natural cycles.
- According to the Department of Dermatology at the University Hospital of Zurich in Switzerland, cigarettes may disrupt function of hair follicle (ii).
- Oxidative stress caused by cigarette smoking is also tied to hair loss. Free radicals from smoking cause damage at the cellular level, decrease cell motility, and increase cell senescence, which is used to describe a live, but inactive cell that can no longer divide and proliferate. The aforementioned processes are all necessary for hair regrowth, and a lack of oxygen caused by smoking deters them.
Preventing Hair Loss from Smoking
If you are a smoker, quitting will not only help you maintain a full head of hair, but also allow your body to continue its natural biological processes without toxic disruption. You’ll be doing your internal organs, skin, hair follicles, and stress levels a favor by cutting out nicotine and tobacco products before they have the chance to take hold of your health.
Within just 20 minutes of quitting smoking, your blood pressure, pulse rate and temperature return to normal levels. In 48 hours, damaged nerve endings caused by smoking begin to regrow, along with a heightened sense of smell and taste. In one year, your risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and heart attack are less than half of a nonsmoker, and in 20 years you are at the same risk of lung disease and cancers as an individual who has never smoked at all.
Quit Smoking Today
If you want to quit smoking but lack the resources, many advocacy groups like Tobacco Free Florida help residents statewide access the tools to cease their tobacco habits, regardless of socioeconomic status. They offer a toll-free “quitline” at 1-877-U-CAN-NOW (1-877-822-6669), where smokers can speak to a Quit Coach who develops a plan toward your smoke-free lifestyle. You can also receive in-person coaching at one of their locations or speak to a representative online. Tobacco Free Florida’s services are free, allowing everyone willing to take the path toward health the chance to get involved.
Treating Hair Loss from Smoking
Although your internal health greatly improves the longer you’ve been a non-smoker, some side effects don’t reverse back to normal without outside help. If you’re suffering from hair loss as a side effect from long-term tobacco use, consider hair restoration treatment(s).
Topical treatments, prescription medications, hair transplant surgery, and low-level laser therapy (LLLT) devices are all viable treatments for smoking-induced hair loss. To receive a personalized plan, contact the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami. Our expert surgeons can help you diminish hair damage and thinning after smoking, allowing you to feel just as fresh and revitalized on the outside as you do on the inside.
Don’t let your appearance reflect unhealthy choices from the past. Contact Miami Hair at (877) 443-9070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for your personalized treatment program.