Men who drink one sugary drink per day have higher risk of hair loss, new research suggests
Hair loss is on the rise in recent years, and consuming too many sugary drinks may be linked to higher risk, suggests a study published January 1 in the journal Nutrients.
Researchers from Tsinghua University in Beijing looked at data from more than 1,000 Chinese men, age 18 to 45, from January to April 2022 to compare self-reported lifestyle habits and hair loss.
They found that hair loss was almost 30% more common among men who had a daily habit of drinking up to one sugary beverage such as soft drinks, juice, energy drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened coffee and tea (totalling between one to three litres per week).
Men who reported having more than one sweetened beverage per day were even more likely to have hair loss, 42% higher risk compared to those who never drank sugary beverages.
The researchers also found that the majority of study participants drank a least some beverages containing sugar in their daily diet and nearly half reported having sweetened drink more than once a day. But men who reported hair loss tended to drink more, about 12 servings a week on average, compared to seven per week for men who didn’t report hair loss.
One limitation of the study is that beverage habits aren’t the only factors in hair loss, and factors like the rest of the diet, overall health, and even stress and mental health history could play a role. For instance, men with hair loss also reported eating more fried food and fewer vegetables, according to the study. The researchers also found that a history of illness or anxiety, or even PTSD, were linked to higher risk of hair loss.
So far, the link between the sugary beverages and hair loss is correlation, not causation, and more studies are needed to find out whether drinking more directly raises the risk of balding.
But young people who drink a lot of sugar may not be aware of the health risks, so future studies could help people make better informed decisions, the researchers wrote.
Consuming too much sugar has health risks such as high blood sugar
Previous research suggests sweetened drinks can wreck havoc on our health if consumed in excess, and daily soft drinks consumption has been linked to illnesses like liver cancer.
One reason sugar can be a problem is that consuming lots of it raises your blood sugar levels, particularly when it’s a fast-absorbing form like soft drinks, without other nutrients to slow digestion.
Insulin resistance may also be linked to hair loss, some evidence suggests.
While no single food or drink is likely to make or break your health (or hair), nutritionists and diabetes experts recommend consuming sugary treats in moderation, and combining sweets (and other simple carbs) with protein and fibre to balance blood sugar.