Hair-raising research suggests too many fizzy drinks may cause baldness

Research suggests that too many carbonated drinks can leave men with a bitter taste, which may promote hair loss.

Chinese researchers are the first to find a scientific link between heavy sugary drink (SSB) consumption and male pattern baldness (MPHL), also known as male pattern baldness. claims.

A survey of over 1,000 men online found that those who experienced hair loss were more likely to drink large amounts of sugary drinks.

Researchers from Beijing’s Tsinghua University “found that high consumption of SSB was associated with an increased risk of MPHL,” wrote in the journal. nutrients.

“Increased support for reducing SSB consumption among young people is recommended to minimize adverse health effects.”

The findings are based on online responses from 1,028 Chinese men between the ages of 18 and 45, of whom 592 had hair loss.


What are other causes of thinning hair?

Many other factors have been attributed to hair loss. Here are some important ones:

  • obesity: Japanese researchers found that a high-fat diet was associated with hair loss, but the results were obtained from mouse studies, so they may not be directly applicable to humans.
  • stress: The Mayo Clinic in the United States highlights several causes that can lead to hair loss, including stress that causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles, causing a condition called alopecia areata.
  • fish: Eating some types of fish, especially swordfish and other types of predatory fish, can cause baldness as these fish tend to have higher mercury levels.
  • hair treatment: Shampooing too often, bleaching and coloring can make your hair weak, brittle and thin. Hot curlers and other treatments can also cause damage, according to reports, but it’s usually reversible.
  • carbohydrates: Research suggests that simple carbohydrates, including refined sugars, can cause inflammation that causes hair loss, coupled with new research on sugary drinks. Grains may also play a role.


The researchers described the other 436 participants who had not lost their hair as belonging to the “normal” group, using a term deemed insensitive to “stupid people.”

Analyzing data on drink consumption and whether participants were bald showed a “significant association” between baldness and consumption of sugary drinks.

Bald people drank an average of about 4.3 liters of sugary drinks each week, compared to just over 2.5 liters in the normal group.

Many beverages were considered, including soft drinks, energy drinks, juices with added sugar, sweet milk, sweet tea, and coffee. All were associated with hair loss, with the exception of sweet tea and coffee, which were found to have protective effects.

A boost for tea and coffee drinkers

The caffeine in these drinks may explain why they seem to overcome the negative effects of sugar and reduce the chances of baldness.

In the United Arab Emirates, a 50% purchase tax was introduced in 2019, and officials are trying to reduce consumption of sugary drinks as a way to improve health.

The researchers not only identified a clear link between hair loss and drinking most sugary drinks, but also provided an explanation for how the beverage makes young men more likely to lose hair. Did.

The key mechanism they suggested was that swallowing carbonated beverages increases blood glucose levels, which triggers the conversion of glucose into other substances, known as the polyol pathway.

There are several biochemical processes at work, but the end result is less energy available to cells called keratinocytes in the outer root sheath of the hair.

“The lack of energy in the outer root sheath keratinocytes is considered a possible cause of MPHL,” the researchers wrote.

The researchers said this did not find a link, probably because there was only one previous study that looked at sugary drinks and hair loss, and it probably didn’t distinguish between different types of drinks.

Research Supporting Findings

But long before the latest research, people were suggesting a connection between baldness and soda.

Dr. Lipi Gupta, an Indian dermatologist, writes that carbonated beverages interact with insulin in the blood and “blunt your response to sugar,” which may contribute to hair loss.

“This increases sugar in the bloodstream, which impedes blood circulation and reduces the supply of nutrients to hair follicles, causing hair loss,” said the new study.

And the Belgravia Centre, a hair loss clinic in London, said in an online briefing document that sugar in soft drinks can affect levels of the cortisone hormone, which in turn affects stress, a major cause of hair loss. there is a possibility.

The clinic also rejected suggestions that rinsing hair with a carbonated drink such as Coca-Cola was a good way to make hair look thicker, following reports that some models were doing so.

According to the clinic, rinsing hair with “such harsh chemicals” is “absolutely not recommended” because it can strip essential oils and destroy the keratin in your hair, potentially breaking your hair.

Updated: Jan 10, 2023, 8:45 AM

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