Work by researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing indicates that a high concentration of glucose can affect hair growth in men.
In a study published on January 1 in the scientific journal nutrients, Chinese researchers have established the first link between excessive consumption of sugary drinks and baldness. Their work, carried out at Tsinghua University, Beijing, was revealed in a paper titled: The link between sugary drinks and hair loss in young men.
The conclusions of the study, based on a questionnaire filled out by 1028 Chinese men between the ages of 18 and 45, are clear: “In the final analysis, we found that a high consumption of sugary drinks is associated with an increased risk of baldness”.
“Men’s hair loss has become a global health problem. Its incidence continues to increase and the age at which hair loss first appears continues to decrease,” write the researchers to justify their work.
The study conducted by the Chinese researchers took place from January to April 2022. The 1028 selected participants were asked to indicate their consumption of sugary drinks and the existence of hair problems.
Certain socio-demographic, but also psychological or lifestyle factors of the participants were taken into account in the results. Similarly, respondents with a scalp disease or people with cancer undergoing chemotherapy were excluded.
The results, collected via online questionnaires, therefore establish a link between high consumption of sugary drinks and hair loss in men. A total of 57.6% of participants reported experiencing hair loss.
“The average daily consumption of sugary drinks in the group of participants characterized by hair loss was 4293 ml, much higher than in the normal group, with 2513 ml”, write the researchers.
Similarly, respondents who reported consuming sugar-sweetened beverages more than seven times per week are among the group of people most at risk of premature hair loss.
Too much sugar kills hair?
To explain these results, the researchers put forward two main pathways. First of all, too high a concentration of glucose in the body, allowed by an increased consumption of sugar, can affect hair growth.
The researchers point out that too much sugar intake paradoxically reduces the amount of glucose available to the hair follicles, the cavity in which the hair or hair originates. One of the possible causes of baldness.
“In addition, excessive sugar consumption is often accompanied by excess fat. But a diet with a high fat intake is also blamed for baldness. Animal studies have shown that a dietary fat can cause hair loss in mice,” the researchers said.
Other factors to consider
However, the study calls for caution. The only significant consumption of sugary drinks cannot fully explain the early hair loss, and is very often part of an unhealthy lifestyle. However, this does not call into question the role played by sugary drinks, assure the authors of the study.
People who have experienced hair loss are thus also more likely to be smokers, drinkers, exercise less and have an unstable sleep pattern.
Baldness is apparently not the only public health problem posed by sugary drinks, the study points out. Their role in obesity, diabetes, dental problems, but also for the mental health of consumers has already been mentioned in many other studies.
Faced with these first results, researchers at Tsinghua University are calling for further research, this time based on results obtained in the laboratory and not via online questionnaires.