The NBA playoffs are flying high
, with LeBron James at the forefront of the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference. It’s not his skills that seem to be getting the attention, however, with many around the league commenting on his fast-disappearing hairline. The internet fodder has stretched from Charles Barkley to Dwight Howard, as well as a veritable Twitter explosion. But on the heels of new information about male pattern baldness, or MPB, we’re here to bring you a little bit about the condition and what might help.
MPB is a form of androgenetic alopecia
, accounting for over 95% of hair loss in men. By 35, according to the American Hair Loss Association, two thirds of U.S. men will experience some degree of appreciable hair loss. After fifty, you’re looking at approximately 85% of men with significantly thinning hair. And that’s not the only thing that’s dissolving.
It turns out that hair loss can cause stress
in any number of areas, including confidence issues and trouble with relationships. The AHLA also notes that it “affects interpersonal relationships as well as the professional lives of those suffering.” Apparently it can even be the root of change in a career path.
And so far, there’s no easy fix.
For the most part, there have only been a few available treatments
, and they’ve been spotty at best. Minoxidil – which you might know as Rogaine – is a liquid foam that is applied to the scalp to slow the progression of hair loss and stimulate new growth. There’s also Propecia, a prescription pill that was once thought to treat enlarged prostate glands, but instead blocks the conversion of testosterone, which can shrink hair follicles. Lastly, low-energy lasers are thought to stimulate hair growth, but can be extremely hit-or-miss.
The problem is, according to WebMD and the AHLA, that many of these treatments were discovered when working on other problems. Usually it is a lucky step or random guess that will provide some small breakthrough in the world of male pattern baldness. But a new team of researchers is putting that to rest, with the most encouraging wide-scale study of MPB to date.
Specifically, in March of 2012, scientists have zeroed in on a new potential cause of MPB, which could pave the way for new and more targeted treatments. According to the study, found in Science Translational Medicine, bald men tend to have an abnormal amount of a protein called prostaglandin D2 on their scalps. It’s this protein and its derivatives that block hair growth.
Now that we have an actual root cause, drugs that inhibit this protein should delay male pattern baldness and may apply to women as well. And since some companies are already developing such compounds to fight other ills like asthma, the turnaround process could be abnormally quick.
As for LeBron James, that could mean a slam dunk… and not the one he’s used to.
"American Hair Loss Association - Men's Hair Loss / Introduction." American Hair Loss Association - Men's Hair Loss / Introduction.
N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2012. <http://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss/introduction.asp>.
"Men's Health." Male Pattern Baldness: New Root Cause Found?
N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2012. <http://men.webmd.com/news/20120321/male-pattern-baldness-the-cause>.