In his haunting song from the1970s, legendary songwriter Bob Dylan sang about drinking ‘one more cup of coffee for the road’ before leaving his lover. That iconic song has linked a simple cup of coffee to thoughts of love and loss in the minds of generations of Dylan fans. Now, more prosaically, coffee has been linked to hair loss. It’s one of several drinks mentioned in a recent study that suggests a connection to male pattern baldness.
So, should we be worried? Does one more cup of coffee for the road put us on the highway to hair loss? Read on to find out more!
Male Pattern Baldness and Sugary Drinks
There is some research that suggests a link between consuming sugary drinks and male pattern hair loss. Male pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a common condition in which men experience hair thinning and loss on the scalp. The causes of this condition are not fully understood, but genetics and hormonal factors are thought to play significant roles.
A study published by Chinese researchers at the end of 2022 found that men who consumed excessive quantities of sugar-sweetened drinks had a higher likelihood of experiencing hair loss. The study surveyed more than one thousand men and found that those who consumed more than two servings of sugar-sweetened drinks per day were more likely to experience hair loss than those who consumed less than that amount.
While the study concluded that ‘those who consumed excessive sugar-sweetened beverages had a higher likelihood of reporting male pattern hair loss’ it also cautioned that ‘additional longitudinal and interventional studies are needed to confirm the current association.’ More research is also needed to understand the underlying mechanisms involved.
Reasons for the Link
The reason for the link is not entirely clear, but it is thought that the high sugar content of these drinks may be contributing to hair loss by affecting hormonal levels in the body. High amounts of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can increase the levels of androgens such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT). High levels of androgens are known to be a major factor in male pattern baldness.
Drinks loaded with sugar are also known to be high in calories, which can lead to weight gain. Being overweight or obese is also a known cause of hair loss, as excessive weight can bring on hormonal changes that trigger hair loss.
Where Does Coffee Fit?
There is no scientific evidence to suggest a direct link between the consumption of regular brewed coffee, black or with milk, and hair loss. Indirectly, excessive caffeine intake can lead to stress and anxiety, which can trigger hair loss in individuals who are genetically predisposed to the condition.
To find a direct link between coffee and hair loss, one needs to look at the types of coffee that typically have the highest sugar content. These are the ‘designer’ drinks such as lattes, mochas, and frappuccinos, which often contain added syrups, caramel, and whipped cream. To reduce sugar in these drinks, you can ask for less syrup, or ask for sugar-free options.
Designer coffees are in the same category of high-sugar drinks that includes soda, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juice. Some types of milk, such as chocolate milk, also contain a significant amount of added sugar.
Sweetened teas are in that same category. These are teas that have sugar or a sweetener added to them. This can include natural sweeteners like honey or agave nectar, as well as artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose. Sweetened teas can come in many different flavours and can be served hot or cold and are often used as a refreshing drink. They can be very high in calories, depending on the amount and type of sweetener used.
When it comes to hair loss, there are some things that are beyond your control. You can’t do much about your genes, for example. That’s why it’s important to take action on the things that are within your power. Since there is some evidence to suggest that consuming sugar-sweetened drinks may be associated with an increased risk of hair loss, it makes sense to reduce your consumption of them. That includes designer coffees. Maintaining a balanced diet and a healthy weight will also support hair growth and scalp health.
If you are concerned about hair loss, it is always a good idea to speak with an expert. Vinci Hair Clinic is here to help. We’re one of the world’s leading hair restoration organisations, and we’re offering a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our hair specialists to all new clients, either in person or over the phone using photographs. All you need to do is to get in touch and make an appointment!