Society and Culture
There are many myths regarding the possible causes of baldness and its relationship with one's virility, intelligence, ethnicity, job, social class, wealth, etc. While skepticism is warranted due to lack of scientific validation, some of these myths may have a degree of underlying truth.
|“||You inherit baldness from your mother's father.||”|
Previously, early baldness of the androgenic type was thought to be sex-linked dominant in males and to be sex-linked recessive in females. Research suggests that the gene for the androgen receptor, which is significant in determining probability for hair loss, is located on the X chromosome and so is always inherited from the mother's side for men. There is a 50% chance that a person shares the same X chromosome as his maternal grandfather. Because women have two X chromosomes, they will have two copies of the androgen receptor gene while men only have one. However, research has also shown that a person with a balding father also has a significantly greater chance of experiencing hair loss. Men whose fathers had experienced hairloss were 2.5 times more likely to experience hairloss themselves, regardless of the mother's side of the family.
|“||Weight Training and other types of physical activity cause baldness.||”|
Because it increases testosterone levels many internet forums have put forward the idea that weight training and other forms of exercise increase hair loss in pre-disposed individuals. Although scientific studies do support a correlation between exercise and testosterone, no direct study has found a link between exercise and baldness. However a few have found a relationship between a sedentary lifestyle and baldness suggesting that some exercise is beneficial. It is possible that the type or quantity of exercise may influence hair loss; more studies are needed. Note that testosterone levels are not a good marker of baldness, and many studies actually show paradoxical low testosterone in balding persons, although research on the implications is limited.
|“||Intellectual activity or psychological problems can cause baldness.||”|
This notion may have arisen because cholesterol is involved in the process of neurogenesis and is also the base material from which the body ultimately manufactures DHT. While the notion that bald men are more intelligent may lack credibility in the modern world, in the ancient world if a person was bald it was likely that he had an adequate amount of fat in his diet. Thus, his mental development was probably not stunted by malnutrition during his crucial formative years, he was more likely to be wealthy, and also to have had access to a formal education. However, a sedentary lifestyle is less likely to correlate with intelligence in the modern world, and dietary fat content is not linked to economic class in modern developed countries. Another possibility is that for some people, social standing accrued through intelligence can in mating compensate for physical attractiveness lowered by hair loss and therefore produce male offspring who are prone to both high intellect and hair loss. However, by way of better socioeconomic standing and in turn more access to hair loss treatments, an association between intelligence and actual hair loss is less likely in recent times. Total testosterone exhibits a positive relation to tactual-spatial abilities and to the degree of lateralization. Total testosterone is negatively correlated with verbal fluency. Testosterone in the saliva is also significantly positively correlated to tactual-spatial test scores and, in addition, to field independence. DHT and the ratio DHT/total testosterone are positively related to verbal fluency and negatively to the degree of lateralization of tactual-spatial performance.
|“||Baldness can be caused by emotional stress, sexual frustration, etc.||”|
Emotional stress has been shown to accelerate baldness in genetically susceptible individuals. Stress due to sleep deprivation in military recruits lowered testosterone levels, but is not noted to have affected SHBG. Thus, stress due to sleep deprivation in fit males is unlikely to elevate DHT, which causes male pattern baldness. Whether it can cause hair loss by some other mechanism is not clear.
|“||Bald men are more 'virile' or sexually active than others.||”|
Levels of free testosterone are strongly linked to libido and also DHT levels, but unless free testosterone is virtually nonexistent, levels have not been shown to affect virility. Men with androgenic alopecia are more likely to have a higher baseline of free androgens. However, sexual activity is multifactoral, and androgenic profile is also not the only determining factor in baldness. Additionally, because hair loss is progressive and free testosterone declines with age, a male's hairline may be more indicative of his past than his present disposition.
|“||Frequent ejaculation causes baldness.||”|
There are many misconceptions about what can help prevent hair loss, one of these being that lack of sexual activity will automatically prevent hair loss. While a proven direct correlation exists between increased frequency of ejaculation and increased levels of DHT, as shown in a recent study by Harvard Medical School, the study suggests that ejaculation frequency is a sign, rather than a cause, of higher DHT levels. Moreover, MBP is genetically determined and theoretically occurs even with low levels of DHT. On the other hand, another study shows that although sexual arousal and masturbation-induced orgasm increase testosterone concentration around orgasm, they reduce testosterone concentration on average(especially before abstinence) and because about 5% of testosterone is converted to DHT, ejaculation does not elevate DHT level.
The only published study to test correlation between ejaculation frequency and baldness was probably large enough to detect an association (1390 subjects) and found no correlation, although bald persons had had fewer sexual partners. One study may not be enough especially in baldness, where there is a complex with age. Marital status has been shown in some but not all studies to influence hair loss in cross-sectional studies (NHANES1).
|“||Standing on one's head alleviates baldness.||”|
While this may be a myth, increased circulation to the scalp can help provide hair follicles with needed nourishment to grow strong healthy hair.
|“||Tight hats cause baldness.||”|
While this may be a myth, hats do cause hair breakage and, to a lesser degree, split ends. Since hats are not washed as frequently as other clothing, they can also lead to scalp uncleanliness and possible Pityrosporum ovale contamination in men with naturally oily scalps. Some scalp infections, if left untreated, can cause hair loss.
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