PCOS, BPA, and Hair Loss – What’s the Link?
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on January 19, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
What’s the link between bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical that is prevalent in food and drink packaging and plastic products, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and hair loss?
Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is the most common hormonal disorder of women of reproductive age, and it increases the risk of infertility, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.
With PCOS, there is an excessive secretion of androgens including testosterone (and others that can convert to testosterone). These promote masculine characteristics. Excessive secretion of androgens have been shown to interfere with the liver’s ability to detoxify BPA, leading to an accumulation of BPA in the blood. In a recent study, blood levels of BPA were nearly 60 percent higher in lean women with PCOS, and more than 30 percent higher in obese women with the syndrome, as compared to the control group,
Compounding this is that BPA affects androgen metabolism: as BPA levels increased, the male sex hormones also increased, creating a circular feedback loop. Thus, the more androgens that are present… the higher the blood levels of BPA… the higher the levels of androgens…
So What’s the Link with Hair Loss?
With increasing androgens comes an increased loss and thinning of hair on the head. This is due to DHT, a hormone that gets converted from testosterone (one of the androgens that is secreted in excess in polycystic ovarian syndrome). DHT causes the hair follicles to shrink and the hair shaft to weaken. This leads to thinner hair that may eventually fall out and may not be able to regrow.
Some countries have banned BPA (though not yet in the U.S.), so to minimise your risk of exposure, avoid plastic containers that don’t specifically state they’re BPA-free (I encourage avoiding plastic altogether, inasmuch as that’s possible.)
Though PCOS requires the attention of a medical expert, liver-supportive herbs such as Milk Thistle and Turmeric can help it to better detoxify chemicals like BPA, so they don’t accumulate in your system. Keeping your bowels regular will also help limit the reabsorption of chemicals and hormones before they have a chance to get eliminated.
Every small step counts!
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan