Avoid red meat and swimming pools? We separate the myths from the truth about hair loss

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Greg Williams, plastic surgeon and our resident hair restoration expert, sets us straight:

 There are strong connections between environmental factors and hair loss  - I have not seen evidence of this in my practice. In other words, if there are environmental stressors that increase hair fall in men, they don't seem to result in a degree of thinning that requires hair treatment with a hair transplant.

An unhealthy diet can lead to unhealthy hair - In men, nutritional deficiencies would need to be severe before there was a noticeable difference in the amount of hair. This would also affect all the hair on the head and not cause patterned hair loss. However, hair quality might be affected by lesser degrees of vitamin, mineral and protein deficiencies.

Avoid too much meat - Not true! In fact, low iron in a diet can affect hair growth in women and the same is likely to occur in men. Red meat is a good source of iron.

The sun can contribute to hair loss -  If this were true, balding would be more prevalent in tropical climates than in temperate climates!

Chlorine contributes to hair loss -  Again, if this was the case, there would be a lot of balding Olympic swimmers who have spent thousands of hours in the pool exposing their hair to chlorine.

Regular grooming increases shedding - The average man has about 100,000 hairs on his head and loses about 100 a day, which are replaced by about 100 hairs coming out of their resting phase and starting to grow, thereby keeping a net balance. Men who focus on their hair with regular grooming, which includes combing or brushing the hair, may notice this normal hair loss more than those men who have a more casual approach to their hairstyle where the hairs are naturally shed during the course of the day and night. In my experience, regular brushing or combing of the hair does not contribute to hair thinning.

Physical factors can contribute to hair loss in men  - Yes - but it is much rarer than in women where tight braids and weaves can result in a form of hair loss called traction alopecia. The only group of men that I have come across who suffer from traction alopecia are Sikhs who lose hair between the sideburns and the temples due to their tight turbans.

Stress causes hair loss -  The jury is out on this one. We know that a form of hair loss called telogen effluvium can occur several months after illness or physical trauma. It is likely that psychological stress can cause a similar reaction. However this from of generalised hair loss is often reversible once the individual has recovered physically or emotionally.

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