June 16, 2013
Hair Loss in Women Triggered by Divorce, Study Suggests

Divorce is not always a pleasant thing, and you don't really need a study to tell you that.

While the end of a marriage isn't an entirely abnormal circumstance, it seems that women who have endured the circumstance may be at risk for another, less expected result- hair loss. Loss of spouse through divorce isn't the only factor that triggers hair loss- death of a spouse can cause the symptom as well. And while stress seems to be the connecting thread for the two, a new study indicates both may have a strong impact on hair loss in women.

Genetics remains the biggest factor for hair loss in women, but the second strongest predictor of the symptom of thinning hair is loss of a spouse. Dr. Bahman Guyuron, department of plastic surgery chair at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and lead author of the study commented on environmental factors versus life stressors and female hair loss:

"Most likely, stress is the aspect of a troubling divorce that appears to lead to hair loss among women... What we can say is that we identified factors that appear to both raise risk and lower risk, for both men and women, independent of genetic disposition."
Dr. Doris Day of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City commented on the study, and was unsurprised that stressors like divorce influenced female hair loss:
"...it's not a shock to suggest that various kinds of stress can lead to hair loss. Or that men and women don't experience stress in the same way, so that their hair loss patterns may be different... I am a big proponent of the idea that it's how you handle the stress that can make a difference."
Day continued:
"Of course, you can still get treatment. You can still go for Rogaine drops or laser hair treatment, for example. There are always medical things that can be done, and one does not preclude the other. But patients also need to try and control what they can control in terms of the way they approach stress and handle situations."
The study included 84 female identical twins, and found that in addition to divorce, heavy drinking and smoking also contributed to hair loss in participants.