Pretty Soon, Scientists Will Predict When You Will Lose Your Hair by Reading Your Genes


The game of “Am I Losing My Hair?” that you play in the mirror when you start hitting middle age full-force can be a depressing and simultaneously sobering affair. No man (or woman) wants to start going bald.

But here’s the reality: Two-thirds of all dudes will have started the dreaded process by the time we are 35. And by age 70, about 60% will be well on their way to chrome-dome-dom.

So curious researchers (probably mostly bald) from the University of Edinburgh in the U.K. recently set up a study on genetics to find out if they could predict which guys would get severe hair loss. They looked at the health info and genomic data from more than 52,000 men. Next, they located 287 genetic “regions”—sections of their DNA—that are related to hair structure and growth, and then tried to create a formula that could predict the chance of someone developing male pattern baldness.

They didn’t quite get it to a high level of accuracy that would allow dudes to start figuring when they need to stock up on HeadBlades, but the scientists did figure out how to identify which sub-groups of populations are at a much higher risk. Better yet, the genetic “regions” they identified could lead to more targeted development of future drugs or treatments for baldness or other hair-loss connected conditions.

As for that idea that baldness comes from your mom’s side of the family? This experiment backs it up: The researchers found that “many of the genetics signals for male pattern baldness came from the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers.”

“We are still a long way from making an accurate prediction for an individual’s hair loss pattern,” said Riccardo Marioni, Ph.D., the study’s lead investigator. “However, these results take us one step closer. The findings pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes of hair loss.”

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