Can science predict if you'll go bald?Save
By Michelle Dickinson
If you are starting to worry about your receding hairline, thinning crown or bald spot, you are not alone.
Androgenetic alopecia is the medical term for the inherited form of hair loss, and can affect men and women.
Hair on the scalp is different to hair on other parts of the body as it grows from follicular units which produce tufts of hairs that emerge from a single pore.
Each one of these units has a primary hair present at or around birth which feels light and downy.
The secondary tuft hairs don't develop until the ages of 2 to 3 resulting in locks that appear much thicker than the original baby hair.
Hair loss comes from a reduction of these secondary hairs; the follicular units going back to producing only one primary hair instead of hair tufts.
Eventually the primary hair may disappear completely leaving a hairless or bald scalp.
Baldness can be distressing for both genders and have substantial psychosocial impacts because of changes in self-consciousness and social perceptions.
Male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss and affects about 80 per cent of men by the time they are 80.
Being follically challenged doesn't just affect a man's physical appearance but also his health outcomes.
Studies have identified a correlation between an increased risk of prostate cancer and cardiovascular disease in men showing hair loss traits.
Scientists think that this health link could also be baldness location specific after a Harvard physician health study finding that men with top bald spots were more likely to develop coronary artery disease than men with full heads of hair or frontal receding hairlines.
Another study of more than 5000 Australian men found that those with bald spots on the top of their heads were one and a half times more likely to have prostate cancer than those who had no balding.
Although the real cause of hair loss is still unclear, new research out this week is helping scientists get closer to understanding why it is so prevalent.
The study from the University of Edinburgh looked at the DNA and health data of more than 52,000 men who were living in the UK as part of BioBank, the British genetic experiment.
They identified 287 genetic regions which were linked to baldness, many of which related to the structure and development of the hair.
The scientists found that although hair loss runs in families, fathers are not always good predictors of their son's fate as 14 percent of the genes linked to baldness were found on the X chromosome.
This means that men inherit some hair loss genes from their mothers, many of which were more closely associated with early-onset baldness as opposed to baldness later in life.
The paper published in PLOS Genetics attempted to create a formula to try and predict the chance that a person will go bald, based on the presence or absence of certain genetic markers found in the study.
Although they were not able to make accurate predictions for an individual they were successful in helping to identify sub-groups of the population at the greatest risk of hair loss.
Although the study showed that hair loss is genetically complicated, understanding some of the key genes involved could help scientists to move closer to a possible gene therapy cure in the future.
In the meantime, the good news is that a social psychological and personality science study found that bald men were perceived by volunteers as being more masculine, stronger, and confident than hairier men.
Looks like the Vin Diesel and Bruce Willis look is definitely in!