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Can Science Predict Male Hair Loss Patterns?

Male Hair Loss PatternA group of researchers at the University of Edinburgh have come to the conclusion that the genetic process of hair loss involves 287 genes. Furthermore, they also say they have come up with a formula that predicts the risk a man runs of losing his hair. Even with this formula, the team says it is still too soon to predict whether or not a blood test can show if, and when, hair loss will begin for a man.

According to an article published in the peer-reviewed open-access journal, PLOS Genetics, the results of the study might be able to help identify males at a larger risk of hair loss. If the men are able to be identified, they might also be possible “genetic targets” to help prevent any possible hair loss by intervening before it
occurs.

According to Ricardo Marioni and his University of Edinburgh research colleagues, the total of 287 genetic signals linked to the process of hair loss was determined after the researchers studied DNA from a group of more than 52,000 men who count as being middle-aged. The men took part in a large genetic experiment in Britain called BioBank.

A student involved in the project, Saskia Hagenaars, said the study was successful in identifying hundreds of new genetic signals. Hagenaars also said that many of the genetic signals involved in the process of male pattern baldness actually came from the X chromosome which is inherited from mothers.

The study group included 16,700 men with no hair loss and an additional 12,000 with a slight case of hair loss. In addition, the study included 14,000 men with moderate hair loss and 9800 study group members with severe hair loss. The research team linked the genetic pattern of each man in the study with their degree of hair loss. Men in the study group with total hair loss genes that were less than average were not likely to become bald. In this group, 14% of the men were bald and 39% of the group didn’t have any hair loss. On the other hand, 58% of the men in the top 10% of having baldness genes also showed some hair loss. According to the research group, this makes the genetic pattern of hair loss somewhat, but not completely, predictable.

The research team wrote that “male pattern baldness affects around 80 percent of men by the age of 80 years.” Having said that, they still feel that science is not close to being able to accurately predict any hair loss patterns in individual patients. According to Marioni, “these results take us one step closer. The findings pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes of hair loss.”