With a high prevalence of baldness in the population, it seems quite common, especially as we age, to be concerned over those stray hairs building up in your hair brush and shower drain. But how likely are these concerns to come to fruition? It’s impossible to predict with 100% certainty but there are some contributing factors that can increase your odds of developing pattern baldness. Likewise there are some urban legends in current circulation which have turned out to have absolutely nothing to do with your hair growth potential.
Age is probably one of the first things to come to mind when discussing hair loss and unsurprisingly, your risk of hair loss does in fact increase with age. By age 50 years, the likelihood of male pattern hair loss has increased by 20% from age 30 years (1).
Male pattern baldness is heritable (3). It is triggered by hormones called androgens. Some people can be genetically pre-disposed to be sensitive to androgen levels in the scalp, leading to hair loss. A family history is not a guarantee however, as it is believed to be a complex disorder that involves multiple genes as well as environmental factors (4).
Race and Sex
Males are significantly more likely to be affected in comparison with females (5). Similarly there is a lower prevalence in both Asian and black populations (6–9).
Consumption of alcoholic beverages has been associated with male-pattern baldness (2).
A negative correlation with body weight and development of male pattern baldness has been reported(2). Specifically, less hair loss was observed in those with less weight gain in their younger years (2).
Occupational and Environmental Factors
Research following occupational groups has also revealed some contributing factors. Studies show that people involved with certain types of work were twice as likely to develop pattern hair loss. Investigators identified increased exposure to sunlight and obesity at a young age as the root cause (10).
According to current research, your acne or marital status will not affect your hairline. Additionally, although a host of other unrelated issues with smoking have been suggested, it is not believed to lead to hair loss (2).
Remember, this list is composed of risk factors only. Having any or all of them does not ensure hair loss. If you are concerned though, speak with a hair loss specialist to assess your individual situation.
Article by: Dr. J.L. Carviel PhD, Mediprobe Research Inc.
- HAMILTON JB. Patterned loss of hair in man; types and incidence. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1951 Mar;53(3):708–28.
- Severi G, Sinclair R, Hopper JL, English DR, McCredie MRE, Boyle P, et al. Androgenetic alopecia in men aged 40-69 years: prevalence and risk factors. Br J Dermatol. 2003 Dec;149(6):1207–13.
- Birch MP, Messenger AG. Genetic factors predispose to balding and non-balding in men. Eur J Dermatol EJD. 2001 Aug;11(4):309–14.
- Levy-Nissenbaum E, Bar-Natan M, Frydman M, Pras E. Confirmation of the association between male pattern baldness and the androgen receptor gene. Eur J Dermatol EJD. 2005 Oct;15(5):339–40.
- Norwood O. Incidence of female androgenetic alopecia (female pattern alopecia). Dermatol Surg. 2001;27(1):53–4.
- Khumalo NP, Jessop S, Gumedze F, Ehrlich R. Hairdressing and the prevalence of scalp disease in African adults. Br J Dermatol. 2007 Nov;157(5):981–8.
- Paik JH, Yoon JB, Sim WY, Kim BS, Kim NI. The prevalence and types of androgenetic alopecia in Korean men and women. Br J Dermatol. 2001 Jul;145(1):95–9.
- Tang PH, Chia HP, Cheong LL, Koh D. A community study of male androgenetic alopecia in Bishan, Singapore. Singapore Med J. 2000 May;41(5):202–5.
- Su L-H, Chen TH-H. Association of androgenetic alopecia with smoking and its prevalence among Asian men: a community-based survey. Arch Dermatol. 2007 Nov;143(11):1401–6.
- Su L-H, Chen H-H. Androgenetic alopecia in policemen: higher prevalence and different risk factors relative to the general population (KCIS no. 23). Arch Dermatol Res. 2011 Dec;303(10):753–61.