Drinking Just One Soda a Day Could Spike Your Risk of Hair Loss, New Study Finds

Researchers discovered a potential connection between sugary beverages and losing your locks.

People invest lots of time, money, and energy into making sure their hair looks the best it possibly can. From picking the perfect cut to finding the right ways to wash and condition it, many consider their locks to be one of the most essential parts of their hygiene and style routines. But those who are concerned about keeping a full mane might also want to be aware of what they're reaching for when they get thirsty. That's because a new study finds that drinking just one soda (or other sugary beverage) a day could spike your risk of hair loss. Read on to discover how sweet drinks could be putting your 'do in danger.

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A new study found that soda and other sweet beverages could spike your risk of hair loss.

close up of cola being poured into glass filled with ice
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In a study published in the journal Nutrients on Jan. 1, a group of researchers from Tsinghua University in China collected data from 1,951 men between the ages of 18 and 45. From January through April 2022, the participants completed surveys to provide information on lifestyle, diet, and hair loss. The team then used quality control questions and excluded respondents who reported health issues such as scalp infections or cancer to bring the final group number down to 1,028.

Analysis of the data found that men who reported drinking one sugary beverage a day—or a total of one to three liters a week of drinks including soda, energy drinks, juices, and sweetened caffeinated beverages—were nearly 30 percent more likely to experience male pattern hair loss (MPHL) compared to those who drank none.

Those who had higher intakes of sweeter beverages were even more likely to see effects, with participants who reported consuming more than one sweet drink a day—or nearly a gallon a week—at a 42 percent higher risk of hair loss, Insider reports.

The researchers speculate that the effects of high sugar intake on the body could be to blame.

older man looking in mirror at hair loss, over 50 regrets
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While discussing their findings, the researchers pointed out the apparent association between higher sugary beverage consumption and hair loss among participants. They speculated that sweet drinks could lead to higher blood sugar levels, which has been found to trigger hair loss.

The researchers also cited previous studies that identified connections between hair loss and chronic diseases such as diabetes that could be related to increased consumption of sweet beverages.

In addition, the team noted that "emotional problems" may stem from increased consumption of sugary drinks. They cited a previous meta-analysis that found that study participants who were 45 or older with higher-than-average sugar consumption were significantly more likely to suffer from anxiety—which could induce hair loss in men.

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The researchers admitted the study had some limitations.

Two People Drinking Soda.
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Ultimately, the researchers acknowledged that the study had several limitations to be considered. Since data was self-reported, it's hard to determine how accurate respondents were in how much soda and sugary beverages they were actually consuming.

The team also noted that it only established a correlation between sweet drinks and hair loss, not causation—and it's unclear whether increased consumption increases hair loss risk or vice versa.

Finally, the researchers admitted that using an online survey to collect data might also limit participants, including people without internet access or lower education levels. And while the team noted respondents' sweet beverage intake, they did not gather information on their consumption of sugary foods or other items. Still, they concluded that further research was warranted to better understand the connection.

Other research has found a connection between diet and the risk of hair loss.

Fried bar food
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The research team did point out that sugary beverage intake often coincided with another dietary habit that research has also linked to increased hair loss. A 2021 study published in the journal Nature found a relationship between high-fat diets—including things such as processed meats or fried foods—and thinning locks.

Typically, healthy hair grows in a cycle in which strands fall out and are replaced. "The hair follicle naturally cycles between growth and rest, a process fueled by hair follicle stem cells. During the growth phase, hair follicle stem cells become activated to regenerate the hair follicle and hair," Science Daily reported.

However, in the study's research using mice, the team found that "obesity-induced stress, such as that induced by a high-fat diet" can disrupt the growth cycle by depleting the stem cells that create new hairs. This break in the process causes a lack of replenished locks, eventually leading to thinning hair.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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