The day you realize you’re losing hair faster than you grow it is a tough one. However, two out of three men begin balding by the time they’re 60 according to US News and World Report. Hair loss is also a lucrative industry where balding individuals pay $1 billion to get back their luscious locks. Male pattern baldness has a tendency to run in families and usually starts when a man is in his thirties, but baldness can start as early as the teenage years in some cases. There is no way to avoid male pattern baldness, and the precise causes are still being studied. There are a few things that studies have found on male pattern baldness and its genetic links.
The Genetic Causes of MPB
Medical doctors have found that androgenetic alopecia has both genetic and hormonal causes on baldness. Hair follicles in men who suffer from MPB are more vulnerable to testosterone and DHT later in life. This disadvantage is hereditary, and it causes hair growth to slow down and eventually stop altogether. Doctors believe that the difficult to grow hair at the follicle is passed down from DNA by generation to generation.
Doctors have found that the X chromosome passed down from the mother is directly linked to baldness, yet it’s not the only factor that contributes to androgenetic alopecia.
The Genetic Role of X Chromosome
The baldness gene variation has been linked to the X chromosome, which can only be passed down from a mother to a son. It’s not the only reason that baldness occurs in men. If you consider that a white man has a 50 percent chance of having some hair loss by the age of 50 and some families show no pattern of baldness on the mother’s side, there are a few other factors as well.
Markus Nothen is a genomics professor at the University of Bonn in Germany. He studied 95 families with at least two brothers who showed premature hair loss due to male pattern baldness. In total, 200 men were studied. The genetic screening revealed that the main prerequisite for premature baldness was a difference in the androgen receptor gene. It was found more often among the individuals showing premature hair loss and was not found as often on men who had more hair after the age of 60.
The male sex hormones, androgens, include testosterone. The gene variant causing early pattern hair loss is increasing the effects of these androgens, thus producing hair loss.
Nothen also found that other genes are at play as well and that these may be passed down from father to son. However, more research is necessary to find out what genes are causing baldness.
How to Determine Point of Baldness
Understanding the genetics behind pattern baldness can also help men understand the risks of developing androgenetic alopecia to better comprehend how baldness will change their hair follicles. Men can find the predisposition for hair loss by looking at previous generations on both sides of the family. You may see how acute baldness will be and at what age it will start just by looking at old family albums or talking to your family members.
What Prevents Male Pattern Hair Loss
There are plenty of myths out there on how to avoid baldness. Some say it’s trauma, others say wearing hats strain hair follicles. Then there are those who believe hair products like hairspray and gel cause baldness. However, since male pattern hair loss has been proven to be genetic, there’s no real way to prevent it from happening by avoiding hats or hair gels. There are some treatments out there like Rogaine and Propecia that claim to prevent baldness and even regenerate hair growth. There has been some evidence that Propecia can be used for people whose hair is just beginning to thin to see a bit of hair regrowth, and Rogaine also has shown to slow hair loss.
However, both of these treatments have direct effects on the user that are not beneficial. For example, Propecia causes decreased libido. Rogaine must be used twice daily, but irritates the scalp. Eventually, patients still see a loss of hair. Hair transplant surgery has been effective to treat baldness, but it’s not for everyone.
In conclusion, male pattern baldness is still being researched, and while there are some products that treat baldness, nothing has been able to prevent baldness from occurring to those exhibiting androgenetic alopecia.