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Dairy Consumption Increases DHT
People from Western cultures have a significantly higher incidence of Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA) compared to their Eastern counterparts. Also of interest is the fact that those of Asian descent residing in the US have a much increased incidence of AGA compared to those of the same ethnicity living in Asia.
At the risk of offending Genetic predisposition purist, there are established environmental/dietary factors that appear to clearly influence the genetic expression of AGA. The dietary factors that are associated with a statistical reduction in the incidence of AGA in Asian cultures are Soy, Coconut, Flaxseed, and Sea Vegetables. The identified mechanisms induced by these dietary factors are the production of Equol, an anti-androgen, the down-regulation of Androstenedione, and the lowering of serum Dihydrotestosterone, (DHT).
The dietary factors that appear at this point, most implicated with the stastistical higher incidence of AGA in Western cultures are High Fructose Corn Syrup, Wheat consumption, and Dairy consumption, all unfortunate staples of the American diet. The mechanisms associated with this are an increase in DHT, inflammation, and a decrease in SHBG, (which itself can increase estrogen and DHT) and insulin management.
The following study explains the mechanism by which dairy can increase DHT, directly implicating it as a potentially aggravating dietary factor in the onset and progression of not only acne, but AGA as well. The pathogenesis of both acne and AGA are almost identical eg, Androgen initiation, bacterial infiltrates, local inflammation.
Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Jan;1(1):12-6
Acne, dairy and cancer: The 5alpha-P link
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Medicine (Dermatology); Dartmouth Medical School; Manchester, New Hampshire USA
A potent link to dairy seems to exist for three hormone-responsive glands. Acne, breast cancer and prostate cancer have all been linked epidemiologically to dairy intake. Although mechanisms postulated here remain to be accurately defined, the likely link involves Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 as a general stimulant, synergized by the steroid hormones present in milk. The IGF-1 may be either absorbed from milk, or stimulated by its ingestion, or both. The 5alpha-reduced compound 5alpha-pregnanedione (5alpha-P) present in milk is a direct precursor of dihydrotestosterone and may act through that pathway in prostate cancer, but 5alpha-P has also recently been shown to be capable of inducing estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, upregulating cancer cells' sensitivity to estrogen. The introduction of exogenous hormones and growth factors into tissues that have not evolved defensive feedback inhibition of their corresponding endogenous sources is postulated as a direct stimulatory threat to these organ systems, whether for hyperplasia or neoplasia.
Most consume dairy products because they are convinced or have been erroneously convinced that they are necessary as a source of Calcium. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Calcium in pasteurized cow milk is very poorly absorbed. There are also antibiotics, hormones, and residual pesticides to be concerned with. Soy and Almond milk are better sources of Calcium, and Soy milk alone, unlike cow’s milk, actually reduces, not increases, serum levels of DHT. Supplemental vitamin D3 significantly enhances Calcium absorption and may help with hair growth as well. Green, leafy vegetables are excellent sources of Calcium.
While it is clearly established that AGA has a genetic etiology, there is an ever increasing body of evidence that there are environmental/dietary factors that enhance or diminish its expression. In the interest of halting AGA, you’d likely be well advised to curtail or eliminate your dairy consumption.