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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Fighting male pattern baldness with technology

As a male, once we hit our mid 20s to 30s we may frequently wonder if we will lose our precious hair slowly and go bald – it’s a question on almost every guy’s mind which could be answered with predictive analytics in medicine.  Currently, nearly two out of every three men will begin balding by the time they are 60.  Many men around the world collectively spend nearly a billion dollars annually to hang on to their beloved hair, through hypnosis and hair transplantation and laser treatments.

There are a ton of myths and misinformation about the genetic causes of male pattern baldness. I think we all know the infamous myth, where males believe that their hair loss is determined how much hair their mother’s father had. Although, there is some truth to this myth, however it is not necessarily the case. The primary baldness gene is from your mother’s chromosome, which males do inherit from their mothers. However, you can also inherit these genes from your father’s chromosome. Hair restoration physician Dr. Alan Bauman founder of the Bauman Medical says “Hair-loss genes can be inherited from either your mother’s or father’s side of the family, or a combination of the two.” In addition he says that there are roughly 200 different genes from both parents, which can be unique and won’t necessarily pattern itself from on sibling to another.

Until recently that has been the way to determine whether you are going to be bald or not. Thankfully my father and his father have a full head of hair, and the same goes for my mother’s side – so it has not been a major concern for me, yet. Decades ago, this would have been the most precise go to way of determining your future odds – skimming through old photos of your ancestors or asking your grandmother if your grandfather had hair. Now there is a much scientific approach to predicting hair loss.

In current day, a physician can take a sample swab of DNA from the saliva inside your cheek, and it will show how sensitive you are to dihydrotestosterone, DHT, which is known as the hormone created by your body’s testosterone. This swab will also disclose you your odds for balding and how quick your hair loss might be.

What is the cause of your hair loss?

Many researchers say hair loss can begin as early as your puberty stage, depending on your hereditary sensitivity to DHT. Physician Dr. Bauman emphasizes, DHT production isn’t what is causing you to bald. It is the inherited sensitivity to DHT that causes the hair loss. Men with high sensitivity will be the first to experience a weakening in their hair follicles.  In this stage you will begin to experience thinning around the crown and hairline, and far lighter pigment in the hair. Many, behaviours can increase the DHT production, which will augment the loss depending on sensitivity.  These behaviours can include smoking, specific weight training exercise, stress, creatine supplements, anabolic steroids or testosterone hormones replacement.

What are the stages of hair loss?

Approximately 20 percent of men will experience significant hair loss by the age of 20, quite young right? The percentage grows relative to age. Dr. Bauman states that significant hair loss increases proportionally with age, 30 percent will experience it in their early 30s, 40 percent in their 40s, and so forth.  He adds, “If you go unchecked but have maintained most of your hair by middle age, then your sensitivity to DHT is probably on the low side, meaning you have a slower rate of male pattern hair loss going on.”

Symptoms of hair loss

Symptoms of gradual hair loss are sometimes unnoticeable until almost half the hair is gone.  One of the most obvious signs of hair loss is hairline recession and thinning of the temples, as this is the most common type of hair loss. In men, hair often begins to recede from the forehead in a line that resembles the letter M. Otherwise; hair loss can be more balanced and widespread. This shedding is usually referred as “invisible baldness”, since the hair becomes gradually less dense until suddenly it is visible to the naked eye. There is also, circular or patchy bald spots, some males experience smooth, round bald spots. This type of hair loss usually affects just the scalp.

Many times, you may notice when men bald, they never tend to lose the hair around the sides or the back of their head. Dr. Bauman states that it is unknown why these hair follicles are immune to DHT and don’t occur in hair loss.

How to slow down your hair loss

With age, hair loss is bound to happen over time, it is a part of aging. However, you can control the rate of your hair loss, so try to slow it down. Don’t just artificially slow it down with hair loss medication such as Rogaine or hair transplant.

Have a consistent sleeping pattern, and keep a healthy diet. Cut out smoking and you reduce alcohol intake, both of these things have been proven to compromise the hair’s fiber production. Avoid anti-depressants, anti-anxiety agents, testosterone hormone replacement, mood modulators, all of which that can hinder the hair’s growth and strength.

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