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Last Updated: Saturday, 1 December 2007, 23:46 GMT
Smoking increases 'baldness risk'
Bald man
There is very little treatment for baldness
Scientists have discovered another downside to smoking: it may increase the risk of baldness for some men.

Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is hereditary and partly caused by male sex hormones.

Researchers found that Asian men - who are less likely to go bald than their Western counterparts - were more likely to lose their hair if they smoked.

The study, of 740 Taiwanese men with an average age of 65, is published in Archives of Dermatology.

Far Eastern Memorial Hospital in Taipei gathered information about the age at which the men started losing their hair, and risk factors which may have affected their hair loss.

They found the risk of hair loss increased with advancing age - but remained lower than the average risk for Caucasian men.

However, smoking at least 20 cigarettes a day was linked to an increased risk of baldness, even after other risk factors were taken into account.

The researchers suggest that smoking may destroy hair follicles, or damage cells at their roots that circulate blood and hormones.

Smoking is already linked to a range of diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular problems.

It is known to increase the tendency of the blood to clot, raising the risk of life-threatening conditions, such as heart attack and stroke.

Exposure to tobacco smoke is also associated with other signs of ageing, such as wrinkles and grey hair.

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