Male Pattern Baldness
Androgenic alopecia – better known as Male Pattern Baldness – will affect approximately 70% of men and 40% of women at some point in their lives.
It’s the world’s most common cause of hair loss. Making matters worse is the fact that we don’t really know why it occurs.
What Causes Baldness?
Here’s what scientists know about Male Pattern Baldness: it occurs when the hair follicles beneath the skin undergo androgenic miniaturization. This forces the hair follicle to become dormant.
Contrary to popular belief, the hair follicle never actually disappears or dies. It just enters a state of dormancy where it no longer produces hair.
4 Reasons for Male Pattern Baldness
Most researchers believe there are 4 reasons why this miniaturization occurs in the first place:
1) Hormonal Changes
A steroid hormone called androgen plays a critical role in balding. As we age, androgens stimulate hair growth on the face while suppressing hair growth on the temples and top of the scalp.
Nobody really knows why this occurs, but it’s called the “androgen paradox.”
Genetic research behind balding is messy. One study showed that men were 2.5 times more likely to lose their hair if their fathers were bald. But other studies have shown that the maternal line, which contains the androgen receptor gene, plays the most important role in genetic hair loss.
The ultimate answer is that if there is balding in your family, you’re more likely to be bald yourself. We just don’t know the exact breakdown between paternal and maternal genes – at least not yet.
A report by the American Academy of Dermatology showed that the rate of male pattern baldness in adults had a direct correlation to chronological age. About half of all men will experience hair loss by the age of 50. The reasons for this are well known. As the body ages, we undergo certain changes, including:
— Our bodies produce less serum DHT and 5-alpha reductase, two hormones which play a critical role in hair follicle activity
— Lower levels of 3AAG, which is a peripheral marker of DHT metabolism
— Higher sex hormone-binding globulin levels
— Decreased effectiveness of androgen receptors and other hormone receptors in the scalp
Ultimately, all of the above factors mean that you’re probably going to lose some or all of your hair by the time you’re 50.
4) Metabolic Syndrome
Studies have shown that metabolic syndrome causes low HDL levels. Two of the main dietary sources for HDL are linolenic acid and linoleic acid, both of which act as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. 5-alpha reductase is thought to be a hormone that travels through the bloodstream and kills hair follicles at their source.
So if you want to avoid balding, you want to inhibit 5-alpha reductase. Metabolic syndrome raises 5-alpha reductase levels.
Other Possible Causes for Balding
Men and women have struggled with male pattern baldness since the beginning of time. As such, people have come up with all sorts of creative explanations for balding.
Here are some of the other causes people have suggested:
— It’s inherited from your mother’s father
— It’s related to certain physiological traits, like your virility, intelligence, or ethnicity
— Intellectual activity or psychological disorders cause baldness
— Baldness is caused by emotional stress or sleep deprivation
— Bald men are more sexually active than other man, or they have more testosterone (studies have shown that while balding is connected to testosterone, the specific levels of testosterone do not affect your virility unless testosterone is virtually nonexistent).
None of the claims listed above have been verified by major research. They’re just myths about male pattern baldness.
Ultimately, we don’t know exactly why male pattern baldness occurs.
And unfortunately for anyone who has noticed thinning hair: there is no known cure for male pattern baldness.