MadSci Network: Medicine

Re: Environmentally based hair loss in women

Area: Medicine
Posted By: kathi clement, faculty md, family practice, Univ. of Wyoming
Date: Tue Nov 4 14:05:00 1997
Area of science: Medicine
ID: 877293885.Me
Howard  Good question about temporary hair loss.    Although you didn't 
mention to what extent these women had hair loss.  Our bodies go through 
cycles of normal hair shedding.  Actual hair loss to the point of baldness 
(whether a spot only or total) is called alopecia.  Things that are known 
to cause alopecia include stress (including pregnancy), endocrine disorders 
such as hypothyroidism, autoimmune diseases, Down's syndrome, and even 
infection.  Also, rarely a medicine can cause hair loss.  As far as 
occupational exposure, until recently there was thought NOT to be 
enviromentally related, but I did find an journal article out of Brazil 
(March 96  Int J Dermatol) that had noted a cluster of 7 workers in a paper 
factory that had had alopecia.  These workers had a high level of 
acrylamide, which was a substance that they had misted on the paper 
material to reduce fungus and algae.  Prior to that there has never been a 
suggestion of enviromental toxins causing alopecia.    There has not been 
anything in the US suggesting "sick building syndrome" as a cause of hair 
loss.  It may be coicidence that these 4 women had hair loss.

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