Shorter Men Might Be More Likely to Bald Prematurely

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Shorter men should pay more attention to their health, as they’re at a higher risk for premature balding as well as additional health issues, a new study suggests.

Scientists from the University of Bonn in Germany said in a recent study that an early-onset of male-pattern baldness can have profound negative effects on quality of life. While this has been a relatively known fact, there’s not a lot of information as to why this happens, the authors wrote.

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Health issues such as heart disease and prostate cancer can occur more often for those who suffer from an early onset of male-pattern baldness. The scientists took data from various studies done by other companies, such as 23 and Me and TwinsUK, for more than 22,500 total participants.

The researchers then analyzed the genetics of 11,000 men who had premature baldness, while 12,000 men without hair loss were used as a control group. Stefanie Heilmann-Heimbach, lead author and human geneticist at the University of Bonn, said they were able to identify several areas of human genetics that can cause premature male-pattern baldness.

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“We were thus able to identify 63 alterations in the human genome that increase the risk of premature hair loss,” said Heilmann-Heimbach in a press release. “Some of these alterations were also found in connection with other characteristics and illnesses, such as reduced body size, earlier occurrence of puberty and various cancers.”

Scientists were able to better understand which cells are involved in the onset of premature male-pattern baldness, such as hair follicles as well as fat and immune cells. The study listed several health issues associated with early-onset male-pattern baldness, including cardiovascular disease, prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

These associations led the researchers to look into possible genetic overlaps that might occur for male-pattern baldness and other health issues. Markus Nöthen, director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn, said the study identified other additional associations.

Related: Scientists Discover ‘Uncombable Hair’ Gene

“We have also found links to light skin color and increased bone density,” Nöthen said. “These could indicate that men with hair loss are better able to use sunlight to synthesize vitamin D. They could also explain why white men in particular lose their hair prematurely.”

While male-pattern baldness has high rates of heritability, the overall risk for the condition is still being explored, the authors noted. It’s one of the reasons that, while men with male-pattern baldness should know what’s possible, there’s no need for concern, Nöthen said.

“Men with premature hair loss do not need to be concerned,” Nöthen said. “The risks of illness are only increased slightly. It is, however, exciting to see that hair loss is by no means an isolated characteristic, but instead displays various relationships with other characteristics.”

The participants in the study were from seven different countries. The study was published in Nature Communications.

Tori Linville
Tori Linville is a freelance writer and editor from Clarksville, Tennessee. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she’s faithfully watching her alma mater, the University of Alabama, dominate the football field.