Will smoking an electronic cigarette (eCigarette, or eCig) cause hair loss? Tobacco is the largest preventable cause of death and disease in the United States, according to statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Nearly a half million deaths are caused by smoking each year, yet an estimated 17% of Americans smoke cigarettes in spite of the well documented health risks. There is a strong desire to quit among many Americans, however, with nicotine-replacement products growing in popularity each year. “eCigs” are the newest anti-smoking fad, offering a smokeless and tobacco-free option for those who want to kick the habit. But are eCigs safe?
Many factors may contribute to hair loss, including genetics, stress, and hormones like DHT. Each of these variables is known to affect the hair follicle—tiny structures located within the skin that function as the foundation from which healthy strands of hair grow. Most patients understand how genetics, stress, and even DHT can cause the hair follicle to “shut down” or undergo miniaturization, a phenomenon that causes hair to thin and cease to grow over time. Yet many patients are surprised to learn that lifestyle habits, like nicotine consumption, can be just as detrimental to hair health. Nicotine has been shown to constrict blood vessels and reduce blood flow, a side effect experienced throughout the body following ingestion. Across the scalp, restricted blood flow can have a significantly negative impact on hair growth specifically. Blood flow is vital to hair follicle health and growth. Without proper blood flow, hair follicles are deprived of the oxygen, nutrients, and growth factors needed to sustain a healthy hair growth cycle.
The study of eCigs and hair loss is new field of inquiry that needs many more years of study. However, preliminary research suggests that eCigs may not only contribute to hair loss, but that they may also promote cellular damage and a serious respiratory condition known as Popcorn Lung.
Researchers believe the nicotine content of eCigs affects the body in the same way as ordinary cigarettes and chewing tobacco. That means less blood flow to the scalp, which can significantly undermine hair follicle health.
In addition to nicotine, eCigs contain additional flavorings and chemicals that researchers believe capable of causing serious cellular damage over time. At Harvard, a team of researchers led by Dr. Wang-Rodriquez found evidence that eCig vapor may damage cellular DNA and contribute to the formation of cancer. "There have been many studies showing that nicotine can damage cells," says Dr. Wang-Rodriquez. "But we found that other variables can do damage as well […] There must be other components in the e-cigarettes that are doing this damage. So we may be identifying other carcinogenic components that are previously undescribed." Dr. Wang- Rodriquez’s full statement is made available by Medical News Today.
Making the decision to quit smoking can drastically reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and respiratory conditions like emphysema. eCigs might be smokeless and tobacco-free, but more research is needed to determine just how safe this method of smoking cessation truly is. In the meantime, consumer advocacy groups and programs like Tobacco Free Florida offer free support and assistance to any individual who wants to kick the habit for good. And when it comes to rejuvenating hair that has become thin and brittle from years of smoking, hair restoration surgeons recommend laser hair therapy with laser caps like the Capillus82™. All Capillus® laser caps are cleared by the FDA for the treatment of hair loss in men and women. For additional information, readers are invited to call Capillus customer service at 1-844-280-4680.