“Crash” diets may lead to hair loss – scientist

“Crash” diets may lead to extra-ordinary hair loss, according to leading global hair scientist, Dr Adolf Klenk.

German-based Klenk, who is in SA to present his latest research on hair, said the main causes of hair loss were genetics, stress and hormone imbalance. Additionally, a lack of adequate nutrition due to strong reduction diets may lead to abnormal hair loss, he said.


Hair loss affects about 50% of men and 40% of women [1], said Klenk who discovered in 2001 that caffeine stimulates hair roots and helps prevent hair loss in men and women.


Klenk said some women chose extreme diets to lose weight quickly but these often had a negative effect on their hair and health.


“Hair roots need lots of energy to grow efficiently. Reductionist diets lead to a low level of nutrients reaching the hair root. This, coupled with stress, may lead to brittle hair and premature hair loss,” said Klenk.


Klenk further explained that stress and hormonal changes in women during menopause may lead to lower estrogen levels and increased testosterone which may result in abnormal hair loss.


He discovered in 2001 that testosterone can be countered with a caffeine treatment and developed a range of caffeine shampoos for women (Plantur 39) and men (Alpecin), backed by scientific research[2] and sold across the globe.


[1] Practical management of hair loss; J. Shapiro, M. Wiseman, H. Lui, Can. Fam. Physician 2000, 46, 1469-1477.


[2] Effect of caffeine and testosterone on the proliferation of human hair follicles in vitro; T. W. Fischer, U. C. Hipler, P. Elsner, Int. J. Dermatol. 2007, 46, 27-35.


Differential effects of caffeine on hair shaft elongation, matrix and outer root sheath keratinocyte proliferation, and transforming growth factor-b2/insulin-like growth factor-1-mediated regulation of the hair cycle in male and female human hair follicles in vitro; T. W. Fischer, E. Herczeg-Lisztes, W. Funk, D. Zillikens, T. Bíró, R. Paus, Br. J. Dermatol. 2014, 171, 1031-1043.


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