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Just one soda a day may increase men's risk of baldness

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One less soda a day can prevent hair loss.

A new study suggests that drinking your favorite soda could increase your chances of going bald.

Researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing found that those who consumed just one soda a day had a 57% higher risk of experiencing male-pattern hair loss compared to those who avoided fizzy drinks.

Specifically, they looked at consumption of “sugar-sweetened beverages,” known as SSBs in the study, and hypothesized that any beverage high in added sugar could contribute to the condition. With the possible exception of diet sodas, other sugary drinks, including sports drinks, sweetened coffee and tea, should be ruled out if you want to keep your hair.

Data shows that half of men typically lose their hair by age 50, and 25% of balding men see the first signs of hair loss before age 21, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Scientists have long searched for an effective hair loss treatment, testing everything from twice-daily pills to old-fashioned Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Keeps and Rogaine. A team of Japanese researchers even grew a hair follicle in a petri dish earlier this year – a first step towards developing a regenerative treatment for hair growth.

But recent advances may be for naught if men continue to drink soda. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 63% of adults age 18 and older drink at least one sugar-sweetened beverage a day.

This latest study, published in the journal Nutrients, looked for links between sweet beverage consumption and male hair loss, in a self-reported survey of 1,028 men, aged 18-45, located in China.

Participants answered questions about past baldness, their eating habits and whether they have any mental health issues. They were also asked how often they consumed certain foods and beverages, such as soft drinks and sweetened drinks.

This revealed a “significant association” between high consumption of sugary drinks and hair loss in men.

The investigators noted the higher intake of sugary drinks among the younger men surveyed and believed this was a result of an “awareness of the harmful effects” of sugary drinks.

“Chronic illness and death are so elusive and distant for young people that they are unwilling to give up the satisfaction brought by SSBs in favor of long-term health goals,” the authors wrote.

The researchers further concluded that drinking sugary drinks one to three times a week increased the risk of hair loss by 21%, while consuming four to seven of the sweet drinks increased the risk to 26%.

In addition to hair loss, they found a link between sugary beverage intake and psychological health — potentially fueling a vicious cycle of depression and anxiety made worse by hair loss.

In their analysis, the researchers found that people who consumed three sodas a day had a 25% higher risk of depression. They also found that the simple sugars in such drinks are associated with increased anxiety among study participants aged 45.

The scientists’ findings are correlative, which means they can’t be sure that soda causes hair loss – just that soda drinkers are losing hair at higher rates.

This potential link between poor diet and baldness isn’t the first of its kind, however, as other researchers have looked at the effects of salt and a receding hairline. Some researchers have touted healthy eating and various vitamins and minerals as the holy grail for preventing hair loss, but it remains unclear whether eating healthy is really the end-all.

The Beijing researchers didn’t seem to think so. They found no protective qualities of healthy eating, but called for more studies to be carried out to confirm their results.

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