How many men have squinted at photos of their balding maternal grandfathers, wondering if they, too, would experience hair loss? After all, everyone knows that baldness is genetic, passed down through the mother's side of the family... isn't it? But maybe there's hope, you tell yourself. Maybe baldness skips a generation. You've heard it's possible, and you've read promising articles on the internet, so what are your chances?
There's a lot of misinformation out there, much of it barely more reliable than folklore and wives' tales. Advertising-driven "clickbait"—those sensational articles that pop up in our news feeds or in the margins of websites—keep hair loss in the forefront of our minds. But the truth lies in science. And not necessary genetic science—at least, not for now.
Is There Really a Genetic Connection to Hair Loss?
Genetic scientists have yet to find any specific gene directly associated with hair loss, and even if there were and both your parents carried it, you only have a 1 in 4 chance of that gene affecting your hairline. The idea of it "skipping" generations only applies to whether or not the gene is expressed in any given set of children.
So there's little point in wondering if your mom's genetic makeup affects whether you'll go bald, or whether you'll pass the buck onto your own sons. There are too many factors involved in predicting hair loss: Unspecified genetics, environmental factors, stress, and personal hygiene are among many variables affecting your follicle health, though androgenic alopecia—what most of us call pattern baldness—does show up more frequently in some families than it does others. If you have a close relative who is bald, you're more at risk of losing your hair than if your family reunion looked like the setting for a shampoo model audition... but scientists just haven't nailed down a concrete genetic culprit.
In other words, there's no proof that matrilineal genetics are responsible for your follicle health, and "generation skipping" isn't necessarily the reason you still have a full head of hair while your grandfather's smile isn't the only thing shining for the camera.
The AR Gene: A Likely Suspect
Genetics do play a role in whether or not we're predisposed to baldness, though geneticists have only confirmed the connection between a single gene and androgenic alopecia. The androgen receptor (AR) gene is what gives androgenic alopecia its name, and the gene's role is to prompt the production of proteins called... you guessed it... androgen receptors. Androgens are hormones, and androgen receptors control them.
Certain health issues and medical treatments are associated with elevated hormone levels. Genetic scientists have noted that patients living with these health issues tend to also live with androgenic alopecia. Yet still, geneticists can't completely pin the blame for baldness on the AR gene.
You—Not Your Genes—Are In Control
You might lose more hair worrying about whether or not baldness is genetic than you would if you actively took care of your scalp health. Nutrition, exercise, healthy blood flow to your scalp and clean, healthy follicles help tip the scales in your favor.
You also have modern treatment options to reduce hair loss and stimulate follicle productivity. These include both surgical and non-surgical grafts, hairpieces, laser hair therapy, FDA-approved topical creams and emerging medical technologies such as the BioMembrane hair system, which literally provides you with a new layer of skin tissue in which individually-rooted new hair mimics your natural growth pattern.
Your grandfather never had access to the solutions available to you today. Contact us at New Image Hair Clinic to learn how you can take control of hair loss.