Male pattern hair loss is the most common form of hair loss in men and recent studies show that the rate of male pattern hair loss might be increasing. For example, a survey from China showed the condition impacting 21.3% of men in 2010 and then increasing to 27.5% in 2021. In the past, there has been some speculation regarding the connection between male pattern hair loss and the consumption of sugar so let’s see how this nutrition choice can impact men when it comes to hair loss.
Male Pattern Hair Loss and Sugar – Research Results
Recently, a team of researchers from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, examined the connection that might exist between male pattern hair loss and the consumption of beverages sweetened with sugar. The research team found that a higher consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages correlated to a higher risk of male pattern hair loss.
Dr. Ken L. Williams Jr., D.O., FISHRS, ABHRS, a surgeon in Irvine, CA (who was not involved in the study) told Medical News Today, “Traditionally, most physicians or hair restoration surgeons understand that nutrients and diet play a key role in the overall health and well-being of our patients. Exercise, avoidance of tobacco products and illicit drugs, good nutrition, and a balanced diet are key to our patient’s health and longevity.”
The study, which was published in Nutrients, involved 1028 college teachers and students, with an average age of 27.8 years, from a total of thirty-one provinces in China. The people that participated in the study received a survey that asked about their basic socio-demographic information, dietary intake, hair status, lifestyle, and psychological status. The extent of their sugar-sweetened beverage consumption was gathered from their responses to a fifteen-item Beverage Intake Questionnaire which inquired about their beverage consumption in the last month. The list of beverages on the questionnaire included soft drinks, energy and sports drinks, sweetened juice beverages, and also sweetened milk, tea, and coffee.
In total, over 57.6% of participants reported male pattern hair loss while the others did not. The research team also determined that the individuals who did have male pattern baldness were more likely to be older, have a lower level of education, smoke (or be a past smoker), perform less physical activity, have experienced some form of PTSD or severe anxiety, and also sleep for a shorter duration of time. They also had a positive family history of male pattern hair loss, and had conditions related to the formation of pattern hair loss. In addition, their food consumption included deep-fried foods, homey, sweets, sugar, and ice cream along with fewer vegetables than those without the hair loss condition.
People with male pattern hair loss were found to have consumed an average of 4.3-liters of beverages sweetened with sugar each week as opposed to the 2.5-liters per week among those who did not have the condition.
The research team also found that a history of disease influenced the link between the intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and male pattern hair loss along with a link between the frequency of sugar-sweetened beverages intake and anxiety disorders, and male pattern hair loss and anxiety disorder.
Sugar Intake – How it Impacts Hair
One of the authors of the study, Dr. Ai Zhao, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Vanke School of Public Health at Tsinghua University, was asked how the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was able to influence male pattern hair loss. The doctor told Medical News Today that higher levels of sugar consumption increase the concentration of blood sugar, which triggers polyol pathways, which convert glucose to sugar. The doctor also noted that in vitro and vivo studies show this process is able to reduce the amount of glucose in the outer parts of hair follicles. In turn, this could lead to male pattern hair loss.
Dr. Zhao mentioned that some earlier studies showed that a high intake of sugar is linked to mental health problems. For example, one meta-analysis found that someone who drinks the equivalent of three cans of cola per day has a twenty-five percent higher risk of depression than someone who does not consume sugary beverages.
In closing, Dr. Zhao remarked that the findings were actually limited as the results relied on data that was self-reported as opposed to any clinical diagnoses. Plus, the research did not gather data regarding the consumption of additional sweetened products, and the researchers were not able to distinguish the severity level of male pattern hair loss.
While the study is detailed and well-designed, it does not recommend the elimination of the consumption of all beverages that contain sugar. The study does conclude with the notion that the use of common sense matters in situations that involve the health and nutrition of individuals. In general, people should follow a balanced diet that contains healthy food groups and multiple sources of nutrition in order to enjoy a lifestyle filled with overall good health.