Is Baldness Genetic? - Hair Loss & Hair Transplant Surgery Guide
How do we know that baldness is genetic? Throughout this site, we’ve referred to the fact that men inherit male-pattern baldness, but we thought it might be valuable to look at exactly how we know this to be true. For some male with male-pattern baldness, the discovery heralds new hope. After all, if you know that you are genetically disposed to male-pattern baldness, you can begin treatment earlier to retain your existing hair. Rather than simply having to wait until chooses to baldness reveal itself!
In this article, we will look back at medical research into baldness so that we can understand how the medical community has arrived at its conclusions. We’ll also consider how much of an impact these conclusions might make on male-pattern baldness in the future. Is this the first step in finding a cure?
What is the point of baldness? It seems a strange question, but it is one that scientists have thought about a lot. If you believe in evolution, every human development and difference has a reason. One theory posits that male-pattern baldness evolved in men as a signal to women that the male was reaching social and sexual maturity. The indication is that the male is less aggressive, more responsible and has more of the skills required to nurture children and raise a family.
The idea that baldness is an evolutionary trait also suggests that each generation inherits it from a previous generation. This theory was recently reinforced through published research from a number of genetic scientists.
In 2008, two studies were published that reached the same conclusions about male-pattern baldness. The first study was led by King’s College London, while the second was produced by the University of Bonn.
King’s College London studied the genetic make-up of over 1,000 men who were all Causasians (in whom male-pattern baldness is most prevalent). They discovered that male-pattern baldness was closely linked to genetic discrepancies at two locations on Chromosome 20.
At the same time, colleagues at the university of Bonn conducted research into 300 men with significant male-pattern baldness. They produced similar results: so the natural conclusion was that male-pattern baldness was stimulated by the same two genetic discrepancies noticed on Chromosome 20.
We all have 23 pairs of chromosomes which contain the genes that make us who we are. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Identifying which genes are contained within each chromosome, and what sort of function they have, is an ongoing part of genetic research. The most recent research suggests that Chromosome 20 contains around 900 genes – so you can see how linking specific genes to a condition like male-pattern baldness is a significant and complex piece of research.
In the past, people have proposed the theory that male-pattern baldness is inherited from the maternal side of the family. Now that the relevant genes have been isolated, we can see that this is not true. The genetic make-up of Chromosome 20 can actually be inherited either or both parents.
So what happens now?
Well, there is plenty more work to be done. This research is valuable, because it identified the cause behind male-pattern baldness. The research showed that, the men who had both the genetic variations in Chromosome 20 were approximately seven times more likely to see male-pattern baldness developing by the time they had reached their forties. I
However, understanding the cause of male-pattern baldness should hopefully be only the first step. Now we need to learn how to treat it more effectively. For many manufacturers, the discovery that male-pattern baldness is genetic means that they can begin develop products that are far more focused. They can work on treatments that are preventative, which can be marketed at men who are pre-disposed to baldness yet who have not begun to thin yet.
One area where product development has already begun to advance is in the area of genetic testing. Since medical research has been able to identify which genes cause which sort of inherited traits, there have been a number of products developed which enable you to give yourself ‘a genetic health test’ – essentially, this means discovering whether you can take any pre-emptive action against congenital illnesses that may have been passed down through your family.
By understanding your genetic make-up, the idea is that you should be better able to manage your lifestyle to avoid the kinds of illnesses that could be coming your way. For example, you may be genetically disposed towards high blood pressure. By monitoring your diet carefully and from an early age, you can reduce the risks associated with high blood pressure as you get older.
There are now a number of genetic-testing products available which test for Male-Pattern Baldness. Of course, Male-Pattern Baldness is not a life-threatening disease. However, many men spend huge amounts of money on products such as Minoxidil and Finasteride, in an attempt to thicken their hair after the onset of male-pattern baldness. By using a genetic testing kit, these men could begin using treatments earlier in life, taking steps to protect the hair they have rather than the more difficult task of trying to thicken what is left.
Does it work?
As with most of the research surrounding male-pattern baldness, it is difficult to deduce any concrete conclusions. For example, as we mentioned above, men who held the two genetic variations required to produce male-pattern baldness are seven times more likely to develop the condition. While this is the most specific identifier for male-pattern baldness that researchers have discovered, it still means that men who have the right genes for baldness may not necessarily develop it. It’s a slim chance they may keep their hair – but it’s still a chance.
Likewise, as we’ve seen in other articles in this site, treatments like Minoxodil and Finasteride work differently on different people. . So even if you take a genetic test early in life, then start using Minoxidil or Finasteride, how do know you are using the product that is right for you? Most products recommend you use them for up to six months – and you will only know if they work if you see a visible difference. Therefore, if you are using them before you start going bald, the only visible difference you will see is when you discover that they don’t work. All the preventative, expensive treatment and genetic testing seems to have been fruitless.
So the combination of genetic testing and hair restoration products still has some way to go. You can say that it could work for many men On the other hand, you can certainly say that it will definitely get men spending their money on treatments earlier in life – a good way to bump up profits, we’d imagine.
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