You//Fitness and Health
by Marcus Leach
The older us men get the greater our worries seem to be, especially once you get past the magical thirty year mark. Yet it seems one of the biggest concerns for men nowdays is phalacrophobia, or, in simple terms, the fear of going bald.
And it isn't all in our heads (no pun intended), there is plenty of research suggesting that it is the number one worry amongst men in the UK. HIS Hair Clinic urveyed 2,000 men about what they feared most when it came to ageing. They found that 94 percent of men said balding, followed by becoming impotent, going grey, gaining weight, losing teeth, needing large glasses, going deaf, and having bad breath. But, with all of the advancements in technology and possible cures, should men really be worried about going bald?
Before we answer that question, let us first dispel some of the more popular hair loss myths that might be fuelling the fear of baldness.
Wearing hats causes hair loss - don't believe this old scare 'em tactic, as unless you’re wearing a hat so tight it cuts off the circulation to your hair follicles, wearing hats won’t cause you to go bald.
Hair loss comes from your Dad’s side of the family - stop worrying that your Dad or his Dad for that matter are bald, the gene that leads to baldness can come from either side, so if your Mum’s father has a receding hairline, you could be affected too.
Standing on your head will cure hair loss - not only will you look stupid trying this, but you will feel stupid when you realise it doesn't work. You will increase blood flow to your scalp, but this has no effect on hair growth.
Cutting your hair makes it grow back faster and thicker - when your hair grows back it is thicker at the root than at the top, making it appear thicker. Your hair will grow on average around half an inch a month, no matter how often you cut it.
Stress causes baldness - in cases of extreme stress men can develop conditions such as Telogen Effluvium and Alopecia. However, the most common form of hair loss, Pattern Baldness, is genetic and isn’t caused by stress.
Steroids don’t affect your hair - the use of anabolic steroids can have many nasty side effects for men, accelerated hair loss being one of them, although it can take several years for the full effects to be noticed.
Blow drying your hair leads to hair loss - whilst blow drying can damage, or even burn your hair, which can cause shedding, hair will normally grow back straightaway.
Washing your hair too frequently causes baldness - hair care products are designed to be safe to use and as such you can wash your hair as often as you like without experiencing hair loss or baldness.
So, with myths busted, the big question still remains; is there a cure for baldness? Well it depends how you look at it. For men who are starting to lose their hair there are baldness therapies, including drugs to slow the loss of hairs, and transplants, which move hair from the back of the head to cover bald spots. But can human hair actually be grown? Scientists at the University of Durham, in the UK, and Columbia University Medical Centre, in the US, are trying to do just that, grow new hairs.
Prof Colin Jahoda, from Durham University, speaking to the BBC, said a cure for baldness was possible but it was too soon for men to be hanging up the toupee.
"It's closer, but it's still some way away because in terms of what people want cosmetically they're looking for re-growth of hair that's the same shape, the same size, as long as before, the same angle. Some of these are almost engineering solutions," he said. "Yeah I think it [baldness] will eventually be treatable, absolutely."
Prof Angela Christiano, from Columbia University, who is also working on the research believes they are working towards results that will transform the treatment of hair loss.
"This approach has the potential to transform the medical treatment of hair loss," he said. "Current hair-loss medications tend to slow the loss of hair follicles or potentially stimulate the growth of existing hairs, but they do not create new hair follicles.
"Our method, in contrast, has the potential to actually grow new follicles using a patient's own cells. It's hard to say exactly how long that would take, but the fact that we've done it now should reawaken interest."