Going Bald: Myths vs. Facts
It’s a fairly common fear for aging men – thinning hair, then potentially losing it, can ruin a social reputation, distort first impressions or influence the way the opposite sex views you. But before diving straight in with the hair-saving drugs, take a step back and learn the truth about male-pattern baldness.
Myth: Hair loss drugs do not carry serious side-effects.
In a recent announcement by the FDA, Propecia (finasteride) is to carry a warning label about adverse sexual side effects, which could include decreased drive, ejaculation problems and difficulties with orgasm. Propecia is not just a drug for baldness – it is a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor, which affects testosterone conversion in the body. This class of drugs is also used to treat an enlarged prostate.
Minoxidil, sold in stores as Rogaine, was originally used as a high blood pressure medication. Labels warn of rapid heartbeat, chest pain and lightheadedness.
Myth: Baldness is genetic via your maternal grandfather.
Two studies published in 2008 indicated that a new gene identified with hair loss can be inherited from both the mother’s and father’s side of the family. Researchers questioned past findings and discovered that men whose fathers were bald were two and a half times more likely to have hair loss than men whose fathers did not – regardless of the maternal grandfather.
Myth: There is no hope for male-pattern baldness.
Well, this one is obviously still in research phases, but…
Scientists in Tokyo were recently able to regenerate hair on a bald mouse. The scientists applied stem cells and saw that 74 percent of the implanted cells had grown into hair follicles within three weeks. This could give hope to bald men looking into transplants options. Despite doing the test on a mouse, the scientists also tested implanting human hair follicles onto the mouse, and human hair grew.
Undetermined: Hair loss drugs prevent prostate cancer.
Remember those 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors? A 2003 study showed that taking finasteride did cut down on the incidence of prostate cancer. Then, in another study conducted in 2008, researchers found that these conclusions were wrong; however, this study did conclude that finasteride reduced “high grade” cancer by 28 percent.
Apparently, the jury is still out on this one.
Fact: Trying to hide your baldness makes you look even more ridiculous.
Ok so, there is a study that says that women using an internet-dating website were five times more likely to contact men with hair than men who were bald. But this isn’t about a full head of hair vs. balding or completely bald. This is a statement about the guys who are trying desperately to hide it. Don’t bother with a comb-over, a toupee or another George Costanza-esque stunt. Embrace it. Go with the Jason Statham look. Is anyone going to tell him that he isn’t badass anymore?
It’s estimated that 40 million men are bald or losing hair, nearly 10 million of which are under 30. It happens. Embrace it.
Christopher Regal is a former Web Producer for a variety of conditions on HealthCentral.com, including osteoarthritis, chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, Migraine, and prostate health. He edited, wrote, and managed writers for the website. He joined HealthCentral in November 2009 after time spent working for a political news organization. Chris is a graduate of the Catholic University of America and is a native of Albany, New York.