The Genetics of Baldness

Baldness is usually associated with men however both genders can experience baldness. Genetic factors play an important role in determining how much hair loss you will experience with time as you get older. But other factors also have a great impact on this such as, stress, nutrition and some medications that can cause balding. While these factors can be reversed with the right treatments baldness due to genetics cannot be stopped. The only long-term fix for this kind of baldness is hair transplant.
Let’s examine more details about the topic of hereditary hair loss.

The balding Gene

When hair loss happens because of genetic reasons it occurs in a very predictable manner. This is referred to as Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) and Female Pattern Baldness (FPB).
For men usually, hair loss starts in their 20s and 30s. Also, 80% of men experience MPB by the age of 80.
The medical name for MPB and FPB is Androgenetic alopecia and it is the most common cause of hair loss.

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Male Pattern of Baldness

We have always heard the common comprehension that men and women inherit the gene of baldness only from their parents. Although there is some truth to that this is not always the case. The genetics behind MPB are not completely understood by science today however it is thought to be polygenic meaning it evolves from more than one gene.
Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes that contain their genetic information. Everything from your skin color to the shape of your feet is coded inside these chromosomes.
One of these pairs of chromosomes is called X and the other is called Y and these determine the biological sex of the person. Women have 2 X chromosomes and men have one X and one Y chromosome.
Men inherit X chromosome from their mother and Y chromosome from their father.
Baldness is connected to the AR Gene or Androgen receptor found on the X chromosome. However this is not the only gene responsible for baldness, a 2017 study found 63 genes that play role in baldness and only 6 of them were found on the X chromosome.
Research has also shown that 80% of people experiencing severe baldness have a father who has also lost his hair.

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Female Pattern of Baldness

The genetics behind FPB are unknown but like MPB they come from different genes.
Genes that code for the production of an aromatase enzyme that turns testosterone into estradiol can play a significant role in FPB.

What are the other factors that can cause balding?

There are several other factors that can cause hair loss other than genetics. Women usually start to lose their hair after hormonal changes like in pregnancy and menopause, and men start to lose hair in their early adulthood.

Hormonal Changes: Women lose hair after menopause, pregnancy and childbirth. Both men and women can experience hair loss due to changes in thyroid hormone levels.
Alopecia Areata: this is an autoimmune disorder that causes complete or partial hair loss in different parts of the scalp
Trichotillomania: is a hair-pulling disorder where the person cannot stop the urge to pull out their own hair.
Stress: Prolonged periods of physical and mental stress can cause short-term hair shedding.
Nutritional deficiencies: not getting enough protein and other essential nutrients like zinc and iron can negatively affect your hair growth.
Radiation therapy: This treatment is usually used in cancer patients and commonly causes hair loss. Oftentimes this hair loss is temporary and hair will grow back after stopping the treatment.
Birth control pills: these can cause temporary hair loss.

How to slow hair loss?

Genetic hair loss is permanent and there is nothing you can do about it however there are several ways to slow it down

Healthy lifestyle habits
Eating a blanched diet, regular exercise, minimizing stress and getting enough sleep are very important for hair health.

Topical Medications
Medications such as Minoxidil are often very effective treatments for slowing down hair loss. Usually, these come in the form of spray, cream, or foam and are applied directly to the scalp.

Oral Medications
Medications such as finasteride are used to treat the MPB

Hair Transplant Surgery
The surgery basically consists of extracting hair from a donor area typically the back of the head between the two ears and transplanting them into a recipient area typically the front or the head or the crown area. Hair transplant is the only long-term solution for genetic hair loss.

Laser Therapy (red light therapy)
This treatment can improve the density of the hair if you are dealing with hair loss due to chemotherapy or genetic hair loss.

In conclusion, genetics play a significant role in determining how much hair loss an individual will experience with age. Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male and female pattern baldness, is the most common form of hair loss associated with genetics. Although the exact genetic mechanisms behind it are not fully understood, it is believed to be polygenic, involving multiple genes. Men inherit the X chromosome from their mother and the Y chromosome from their father, and baldness is associated with the AR gene on the X chromosome, as well as other genes. Women may experience hair loss due to hormonal changes, and genes that code for the production of an aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone into estradiol can also play a role in female pattern baldness.

While genetics cannot be reversed, other factors such as stress, nutrition, and certain medications can also cause hair loss, and these can be addressed with proper treatment. Healthy lifestyle habits, topical medications, oral medications, and hair transplant surgery are all options for slowing down hair loss or restoring hair density. However, it is important to consult with a professional before beginning any treatment to determine the best course of action. Overall, understanding the role of genetics in hair loss can help individuals make informed decisions about their hair health and take appropriate steps to address any concerns.

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