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Odds of going bald uncovered in study

17 February 2017

The genetic analysis underlying this study examined genetic profiles already created by the United Kingdom Biobank and paired with the questionnaire about hair loss below, which they answered themselves.

Before the new study, by researchers at Edinburgh University and published in the journal PLOS Genetics, only a handful of genes related to baldness had been identified.

Testing out their genetic predictions, they found those with below-average genetic readings linked to baldness only suffered severe hair loss in 14 per cent of cases, with 39 per cent having lost none of their hair. "The results of this study might help identify those at greatest risk of hair loss, and also potential genetic targets for intervention".

Earlier studies have pointed to eight predictable markers of hair loss in men. Most are fated to at least have their hair thin out. "The findings pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes of hair loss", said study's principal investigator, Dr Riccardo Marioni, from Edinburgh.

"It was interesting to find that numerous genetics signals for male pattern baldness came from the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers", Saskia Hagenaars, a PhD student from the university, said in a statement. The genetic regions linked to baldness in men also link to hair growth in dogs.

A completely accurate algorithm is still a long way off, but the findings could help scientists identify male individuals prone to hair loss in the future. By contrast, 58 percent of those scoring in the top 10 percent on the polygenic score had moderate to severe MPB.

According to the researchers, around 40 of the variations were found in the X chromosome, which men inherit from their maternal side. One of the genes on the X chromosome - the gene for the androgen receptor, which binds to the hormone testosterone - was strongly linked with severe hair loss. However, these results take us one step closer.

Male pattern baldness affects 30 percent of men under 30 and 80 percent of men by the time they're 80 years old.

"It was interesting to find that numerous genetics signals for male pattern baldness came from the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers".

Of the men in the study, 16,700 had no hair loss.

As more information from these participants becomes available, the researchers may be able to further refine their predictions, they said.

Odds of going bald uncovered in study