More than half of all women are concerned about excess body hair, according to a report published by market research company Mintel last month. In the online survey of more
than 2,000 women, excess hair was rated just behind weight gain for body dissatisfaction.
It's estimated that one in ten of us suffers from excess facial and body hair. But what causes it?
Sometimes race or just a family tendency to be more hairy is to blame, rather than any medical problem. People of South Asian or Mediterranean descent tend to have more hair
than Caucasians or those with black skin, for example.
But there are other factors that could be to blame. Eating large amounts of sugary, refined carbohydrates, such as biscuits and cakes, may trigger excess hair. These foods have a
high glycemic index, which means they release their energy quickly and can cause insulin resistance.
Insulin is the hormone that controls blood sugar level; 'resistance' means the hormone becomes less effective at lowering blood sugar, so the body has to produce more of it to get
the job done.
"The problem is that a raised insulin level may trigger growth factors which make the ovaries produce too much of the "male" hormone testosterone, which can lead to excess hair,"
adds Marilyn Glenville, a women's health expert and nutritionist. "Being overweight can also cause insulin resistance."