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The groundbreaking study was funded by bosses at South Korean cosmetics company Coreana Cosmetics and is said to be the first to find a link between airborne pollutants and loss of hair.
Researchers tested the effect of dust and fuel particles on human scalp cells and found that exposure to common pollutants reduced the levels of four proteins responsible for hair growth and hair retention.
It also suggested that those living in those living in cities are at greater risk of going bald due to the increase of airborne particles.
Experts exposed human follicle cells to different concentrations of fine dust particles and tiny diesel particles, and found decreased levels of beta-catenin, a protein involved in hair growth and the process of generation of follicles.
Three other proteins responsible for hair growth and retention – cyclin D1, cyclin E and CDK2 – were also affected.
However, lead researcher Hyuk Chul Kwok noted that further investigation was needed to support the results.
“It is possible to hypothesise that at certain levels of exposure this could lead to baldness, but further population-based research needs to be undertaken to confirm this,” he suggested. “When the cells on the human scalp were exposed to common air pollutants created from burning fossil fuels, the proteins in the cells that are responsible for hair growth and hair retention were significantly reduced.”
The results were revealed at the 28th European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress in Madrid, Spain.
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