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Stress of divorce may lead to hair loss in women

A divorce is usually a highly stressful event. Whether this stress comes from the legal aspect of the divorce or the more logistical elements, such as moving or adjusting to sharing custody of your children, it is rarely an easy process. Because women and men generally handle stress differently, it is foreseeable that a divorce would have different effects on each gender. Now, a new study is reporting that one such differing effect is hair loss.

The study was based on a pool of 66 male and 84 female identical twins, all of whom completed lifestyle questionnaires and underwent hormone blood level testing and a photo analysis of their hair. Ultimately, researchers concluded that divorce can cause significant midline, or central, hair loss in women. The same result was not reported for men.

While researchers concluded that genetics is the strongest indicator of midline, or central, hair loss in women, they also found that a woman's marital status was a very strong predictor of whether they would lose hair in that part of the head. They concluded that the loss of a spouse, either through death or divorce, significantly elevated the risk for thinning midline hair. Married or single women did not experience this increased risk of hair loss.

Male hair loss was attributed to several other factors: sun exposure, lack of exercise, smoking, and a history of dandruff, to name a few. However, their marital status did not seem to affect their hairline. This is likely because men and women handle stress differently, which somehow translates to hair loss for women.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, "Could Divorce Trigger Hair Loss in Women?" Alan Mozes, Sept. 21, 2011

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