Will You Go Bald? Your Genes Could Tell, Finds New Research

Bald man

GETTYThe findings could provide possible targets for drug development to treat baldness

"In this large genome-wide association study study of male pattern baldness, we identified 287 independent genetic signals that were linked to differences in the trait", Riccardo Marioni and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh wrote. While scientists have begun trials for drugs treating other forms of baldness, like alopecia areata, there is no long-term treatment for male pattern baldness yet - despite what informercials may have you believe.

The new study - the largest ever analysis of hair loss - has identified almost 300 genes that contribute to the potentially embarrassing condition. With the results, the researchers hope to identify people within the population at risk for hair loss.

The team studied the DNA from more than 52,000 mostly middle-aged men taking part in a huge British genetic experiment called BioBank. But its study of more than 52,000 men through the UK Biobank offers some hope in identifying the genetic regions which cause it.

Among those with a genetic score in the top 10 per cent however, 58 per cent reported moderate to severe hair loss.

Forty of the genetic variations were located on the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers, the researchers said.

Earlier studies have also pointed to the fact that the X chromosomes were responsible for the hair loss in men. Results showed that 80 percent of these men showed patterns of hair loss when they hit the age of 80 years. More to the point for those anxious about it is the second half of this sentence: "The results of this study might help identify those at greatest risk of hair loss, and also potential genetic targets for intervention", says a study co-author, per NBC News.

Men like Prince William, who lose their hair at around the same time as their father did, may be unsurprised to learn that 80 per cent of male pattern baldness is passed down in our genes.

The male hormone, testosterone, replaces the old hair in the scalp with comparatively shorter and thinner hair which starts growing from the temples and crowns of the head.

Hair loss also occurs after major surgery or childbirth, for example.

Scientists analyzed the genomic and health data of more than 52,000 men enrolled in the UK Biobank - an global health resource offering health information on more than 500,000 individuals.

A completely accurate algorithm is still a long way off, but the findings could help scientists identify male individuals prone to hair loss in the future. "The findings pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes of hair loss".

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