A wide range of lifestyle aspects which include stress, smoking, heavy drinking, and sun exposure could raise the risk for hair loss as per preliminary findings from new studies.

The study included 90 male and 98 female identical twins who were asked to fill out a detailed questionnaire about their lives and habits with the doctors snapping pictures of their scalps to measure any areas of thinning. Bahman Guyuron, MD, a plastic surgeon at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio led the research. Since each twin carries the same genes as the other, which will in turn rule out genetic differences as a potential cause for a trait or illness, the study on identical twins can be extremely useful.

In the case of men, genes seemed to be the biggest predictor of balding, despite the fact that smoking, drinking, stress and sun exposure also factored in. Men who didn't exercise regularly and had high blood pressure also had a higher risk for hair loss in the coronal area which is nearer the top.

In the case of women, aspects relating to stress were often predictive of hair loss. Among the factors the most important was marital status. The study could identify that among twins in stable marriages fuller heads of hair were found than a sibling who had been divorced or widowed. In addition, the study has found that excessive drinking and also smoking appear to augment the chances for hair loss among women.

Guyuron said the findings indicate that female hair loss can also be sparked by excessive sleeping patterns, as well as situations commonly associated with stress such as having multiple children. Across the temporal area which is near temples of the head, the study found that the more years a woman had smoked the greater the hair loss.

The findings will be presented at the American Society of Plastic Surgeons' annual meeting in Denver.