Everything in Moderation, Including Work
We’ve known for a long time that heightened stress can contribute to hair loss. Experiments involving mice have shown that stress is significantly related to the inhibition of hair growth, activation of the catagen cycle and damage to hair follicles. Now we have a new study showing just how badly burning the midnight oil at work can affect your hairline. Researchers at the Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea have published an article concluding that working long hours might accelerate hair loss.
The findings were reported in the article, “Relationship between working hours and probability to take alopecia medicine among Korean male workers: a 4-year follow-up study.” They examined more than 13,000 men between age 20 and 59 over a 4-year period ending in 2017. They were divided into three groups: normal, long, and much longer. The normal group worked no more than a 40-hour week. The long group worked from 40 to 52 hours per week. The much longer group worked over 52 hours per week.
Scientists found those in their 20s or 30s who worked at least 52 hours per week were twice as likely to take medication for hair loss compared to those who worked less than 52 hours per week.
When we learn of studies like this, we come to the table with a bit of skepticism, so we don’t just echo hype. Numerous media outlets have inaccurately reported that the researchers found that there is a causal relationship between working longer hours and hair loss. It’s everywhere from Better Homes & Gardens to International Business Times.
Lead author Dr. Kyung-Hun Son contributed to this when he said, “The results of this study demonstrate long working hours is significantly associated with the increased development of alopecia in male workers. Furthermore, the strength of association increased linearly as work time got longer. Limitation of working hours in order to prevent alopecia development may be more necessary from younger workers, such as those in the twenties and thirties, at which hair loss symptoms start to appear.”
While one possible interpretation of the data is that working long hours contributes to hair loss, another is that there might be no difference at all in the incidence of hair loss. All we know from this study is that those who work longer hours are more likely to take medication for hair loss.
A completely different theory could be that those who work longer hours are more likely to be in a career that emphasizes and rewards appearance. Or they could simply make more money, making them more likely to find hair loss medication affordable. In each of those scenarios, the subjects might be more likely to take hair loss medication.
Our point is that hair loss medication is not a good way of identifying those who experience hair loss. A lot of people who experience hair loss don’t take medication for it and there is an endless variety of reasons why. Does that mean they aren’t experiencing hair loss? Of course not.
So, working longer hours may not make a person more likely to experience hair loss – it may just make a person more likely to seek and access hair loss medication. All of that said, here’s what we at Arocha Hair Restoration recommend related to these findings:
Balance in life is important. If you are working long hours week after week and month after month, chances are that you are making sacrifices in other parts of your life that could diminish your overall health. If your work is becoming a grind, it’s probably time to look for ways to achieve balance both at work and at home.
Pay attention to what you’re eating. If you are working a lot and getting dinner at the drive-thru, you may not be eating a balanced diet. We encourage patients to consume carbohydrates, protein, fats, zinc and vitamins. Consume foods rich in iron such as oatmeal, cream of wheat, raisin bran cereal, baked potato, green leafy vegetables, liver, meat, and dates or prunes to replenish body iron stores. Be certain to consume adequate omega-3 fatty acids. Excellent sources of these essential fatty acids are wild salmon, sardines, herring or mackerel, and freshly ground flax seeds.
Consult a doctor.There are numerous potential causes of hair loss that may not be related to stress. A few include thyroid conditions, anemia and autoimmune disease. Hair loss can also be a reaction to a medication you are taking. Talking with a doctor will give you peace of mind. If you are seeking expert hair restoration guidanceand can’t wait a decade or more, contact Dr. Bernard Arocha.