This Morning: Dr Ranj discusses treatments for hair loss
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Modern life for humans is inevitably stressful however a protein has shown impressive study results in increasing hair growth by counteracting the harmful effects. Researchers found that by increasing a protein known as GAS6, hair growth was promoted even when under stress.
Researchers from Harvard University found corticosterone, a hormone in mice released during stress, suppresses the production of a protein called GAS6.
GAS6 promotes the growth of hair follicles and when a person or animal is stressed, high corticosterone levels prevent it being made.
Study author Professor of stem cell and regenerative biology from Harvard University, Ya-Chieh Hsu said: “Stress hormones suppress growth in mice affecting growth of the hair follicle stem cells.”
In the study published in Nature, researchers investigated the role of the stress hormone on mice by removing their adrenal glands which pump out the chemical.
The altered mice were unable to make corticosterone, mimicking what it is like in a no-stress environment.
The study found that the hair follicles of these mice were in telogen for just 20 days, three times less than in the non-altered mice which do make corticosterone.
The follicles also engaged in hair growth three times as often, the researchers noted.
Researchers then injected the mice with GAS6 and found it successfully reinitiated hair growth.
Professor Hsu added: “Restoring the expression of GAS6 could overcome stress-induced inhibition of hair follicle stem cells and might encourage regeneration of growth.”
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What the expert said
Dr Bessam Farjo, hair loss expert & hair restoration surgeon explained: “Hair has a programmed life cycle, starting with a growth phase, followed by a rest period and finally a shedding phase.
“The rate of growth can be affected by a number of factors, including your health, age and environmental reasons, such as stress levels.
“When a person is stressed, anxious or unwell, the growth cycle can be prematurely sent into shock and trigger more hair to enter the shedding phase.
“This can give the appearance of sudden hair loss and consequently cause more anxiety as a result.
“However, being stressed-out doesn’t mean you’ll wake up with a huge tuft of hair on your pillow the following day.
“It can take between three and six months for your hair to shed, meaning people may not be able to link it back to an earlier, stressful event.”
“You’ll be pleased to know that trauma-induced hair loss is usually temporary and tends to return once stress levels are reduced,” said Dr Farjo.
“If you’re worried about your hair loss and haven’t got to the root of the problem (pardon the pun) then it’s definitely worth getting in touch with us so we can give you a thorough assessment and plan of action.
“Eating a balanced diet, taking supplements if you believe you’re deficient in a certain area, avoiding very tight hairstyles, chemical processing and excessive heat on the hair can also help.
“From an emotional side of things, anything you can do to reduce the impact of the stress (e.g. exercise, mindfulness etc) can have an effect, although I appreciate this is easier said than done.”
UPMC lists the ways to help reduce your stress levels to help reduce hair loss which include:
- Learn and practice relaxation techniques (such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga) regularly
- Get regular exercise, which helps manage stress and its effects
- Spend time with positive people — isolating yourself can make stress worse
- Seek professional help from a therapist
- Eat a healthy diet and take a multivitamin if your doctor recommends it
- Treat your hair with care when washing, drying, and styling it
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