Men who drink at least one soda a day have a higher chance of suffering hair loss early, according to a new study.
Researchers reported in their study published in the journal Nutrients the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and male pattern baldness in young men.
Male pattern hair loss (MPHL) has become a global public health issue in recent years. However, the incidence rate of the condition has significantly increased while the onset of it has decreased.
Meanwhile, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages has become prevalent in young populations. Since there are limited studies on the relationship between sugary drinks and MPHL, the researchers opted to focus on the association between the two.
The team sought to investigate the link between the consumption of sugary drinks and male pattern hair loss in men. They conducted a cross-sectional study from January to April 2022 in mainland China, recruiting young people aged 18-45 from 31 provinces to participate.
Among the 1,028 participants in the final stage of data analysis, the group found that high consumption of soda and sugary beverages increased the risk of baldness in young men.
Several sociodemographic factors were taken into consideration for the study, including hair status, dietary intake, lifestyle, and psychological factors.
“The biochemical symptoms of androgenetic alopecia in the scalp are highly suggestive of an overactive polyol pathway,” the team wrote in their findings.
Explaining how the sugary drinks caused the condition, the researchers said the polyol pathway gets activated by higher serum glucose concentration caused by the sweetened beverages. When this happens, the amount of glucose in the outer root sheath keratinocytes of hair follicles depletes, leading to MPHL.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, men typically lose their hair by age 50, with 25% of them experiencing the earliest signs of hair loss before 21 years old.
With sodas becoming a common component of the Western diet, it’s very likely for more men to lose their hair early. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that 63% of adults aged 18 and above drink at least one sugary beverage a day.
Nevertheless, it’s important to note that the team was not able to clinically diagnose the MPHL of the participants since they only conducted surveys. Further investigation is needed to fully examine and establish the association between sugary drinks and male baldness.