Debunking 13 Myths About ‘The Baldness Gene’

by Raychel Agramon, RN, MPM July 13, 2020 0 Comments

Debunking 13 Myths About ‘The Baldness Gene’

Genetics play a big role in everything you are now today. While you can get something good from your parents – say, your height – you can get something bad from them too. These may include diseases (sickle cell disease, hemophilia) - or something relatively minor: baldness.

While hair loss may be considered trivial by many, it has grown into a billion-dollar industry. Males – and females too – spend an insane amount of money just to keep their locks full and thick. Before you try and do so, it’s best if you knew more about the ‘baldness gene’ - and the myths (and facts) that surround them.

Myth 1: I'm going bald, so it means I’m getting old.

Not necessarily. While hair loss indeed occurs with aging, it’s not always the case. Some men who are in their 30s may already show signs of balding. By the time they are 60, these men are already full-on bald. This is often the case if the person doesn’t do anything at the first sign of hair loss.

Myth 2: I’m losing my hair – and it’s my mom’s fault.

While this is factual – the X chromosome that contains the baldness gene only comes from your mom – there are several other reasons why you may be starting to lose your hair. 

For one, you could also blame your dad – especially if he is balding as well. After all, these fathers are also more likely to pass their hair loss problems to their sons.

Myth 3: Baldness is a familial thing.

False. While baldness usually stems from the genes, other factors could also trigger hair loss problems. These include:

  • Poor diet
  • Medications, particularly anti-cancer drugs
  • Autoimmune conditions, such as lupus and Hashimoto’s disease 
  • Stress, which could lead to temporary hair loss conditions such as Telogen Effluvium and Alopecia Areata 

Myth 4: Male-pattern baldness only affects men. 

False. Male-pattern baldness, which is the layman’s term for androgenetic alopecia, is a condition that affects women as well. This is called female-pattern baldness (but of course), which affects 40% of women in their 40’s.

Compared to the M-shaped male-pattern baldness, females suffer from gradual hair thinning. This then progresses to diffuse hair loss, which usually starts from the top part (crown) of the head. 

Myth 5: I have high testosterone levels that’s why I’m losing hair. 

False. Balding men may have high or low levels of testosterone. The hormone to blame here is Dihydrotestosterone or DHT. While it is formed through testosterone, it would not be possible without the help of an enzyme called 5α-reductase.

With high levels of DHT, your follicles produce thinner locks. DHT can also cause the untimely deaths of these follicles, which contribute to progressive hair loss. 

 

Myth 6: Too much sun exposure will make me go bald.

False. While UV rays can damage your hair and degrade its proteins, the problem will remain confined in your hair shaft. The sun won’t affect the follicles that govern hair growth. 

Myth 7: I will lose hair if I use hair gels or sprays a lot.

False. Hair products won’t cause you to lose hair. Teasing hair and using hair curlers, however, will speed up the hair loss process. With that being said, it’s best if you avoid the aforementioned items if you want to maintain a good head of hair. 

Myth 8: Wearing hats or caps often can bring about hair loss.

False. Wearing hats or caps will not make you lose hair. These gears come with many benefits, including protection from harmful UV rays (which again, don’t cause balding).

While it’s safe to sport your favorite hats or caps, you need to make sure that they are clean. A dirty headgear can infect your scalp, which could contribute to hair loss. As such, it’s best to wash your caps and hats as often as you can to prevent hair-harming infection. 

Myth 9: Eating lots of carbohydrates would lead to hair loss.

False. Carbohydrates provide the body with its much-needed energy. They are especially useful for fast-growing cells/structures, such as the hair.

Myth 10: Taking lots of vitamins and minerals can help slow hair loss.

False. While vitamins and minerals are helpful for hair growth, taking too much of them can adversely affect your locks. 

For one, taking lots of Vitamin A can lead to hair loss. According to a study, it’s best to follow the recommended dose of 1,300 micrograms a day. 

Selenium is another mineral that you should take in moderation. If taken in excess, it could lead to selenosis, which includes hair loss as a symptom. The Institute of Medicine’s Food & Nutrition Board recommends a limit of 400 mcg for adults.

Myth 11: Masturbation causes hair loss.

False. There is no scientific evidence that links masturbation with balding. 

People believe this myth because of the following stories, all of which are not true:

  • Losing semen would equate to losing a lot of protein, a nutrient necessary for hair health. 
  • Masturbating increases testosterone levels, which could trigger baldness. As mentioned earlier, testosterone is not the culprit behind hair loss.

Myth 12: Steroids can help reduce hair loss.

True. Steroids, when applied to the affected areas, may promote hair growth. Such progress was seen in the study of Ghorami et al, where the effects of the steroid betamethasone were checked after 4, 8, and 12 weeks of use.

Results showed that 14 of 20 patients manifested good regrowth after 3 months of regular use. This translates to a 70% success rate without any adverse side effects. According to experts, these positive results may be due to the steroid’s ability to decrease DHT concentration in the scalp. 

Myth 13: A DNA test can predict whether or not I’ll go bald.

Not exactly. The keyword here is 'predict'. The results are not substitutes for an accurate diagnosis.

 A DNA test may say that you have inherited the bald gene, but that does not automatically mean that you will lose hair. You may just be an asymptomatic carrier – meaning your progeny may end up bald, but not you. 

DNA testing, as is the case of 23andMe may be popular – but it’s something that still needs to be perfected. There may be errors along the way, especially in non-Caucasian test takers. This population still has sparse data to verify whether the presence of a ‘baldness gene’ would actually progress to hair loss.