Could pollution be making you bald?

I always thought baldness was hereditary. Turns out there might be environmental factors at play too—new research from the University of London suggests that men living in polluted areas are more likely to go bald than those living in cleaner areas, the Telegraph reports.

“We think any pollutant that can get into the bloodstream or into the skin and into the hair follicle could cause some stress to it and impair the ability of the hair to make a fibre,” says Mike Philpott from the school of medicine at Queen Mary University of London. “There are a whole host of carcinogens and toxins in the environment that could trigger this. It suggests that if you stop smoking or live in an area with less air pollution, you may be less predisposed to hair loss.”

bald head

While the hereditary aspect of hair loss is important, Philpott says environmental factors could aggravate the process.

Nilofer Farjo, a hair transplant doctor involved in the research, told the Telegraph that this research might lead to new ways of treating genetic hair loss. “There’s undoubtedly genetics involved as well, but now we know there are environmental factors too. If you live in a place with cleaner air, you might be at less risk.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.