Jan 8, 2011

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Male baldness: Should we worry?

The statistics are quite staggering. According to Wikipedia, approximately 25 percent of men begin balding by age 20; two-thirds begin balding by age 60. There is a 4 in 7 chance of getting the baldness gene.

Its probably acceptable to be bald when you are 60, but if you're in your 20's and going on a date, there is a feeling that you might not make an impression. The girl could be thinking, "Hmm.. no hair, will my future son going to be the same if I marry this guy?"

For most guys in this category, it is not because they never use shampoos, conditioners, or hair-growing products, but mainly due to genetics - a gene called the Androgen Receptor located in the X chromosomes that determines the probability of hair loss. Scientists agree that it is this gene that prevents hair from growing on the head. If only we could alter this gene then we're good to go. Only if it was this simple..

X-Chromosome that is believed to carry the hair loss gene

Recently a group of scientists from the US discovered that baldness is not because a lack of hair, but a problem with the new hair that is made. They claimed that a "manufacturing defect" means the hair produced is so small it appears invisible to the naked eye, giving the classic bald head. Instead of altering the gene, they attempt to cure male baldness by restoring normal function of these stem cells by re-activating them. Easier said than done, but they are optimistic in finding a yet-to-be-discovered effective cure for baldness.

Even if an effective cure is found, I doubt that its going to come cheap as off-the-shelf pharmacy item. Just like a mid-range computer in the 60's used to cost more than 1 million dollars with a size of a living room, state-of-the-art cure will not start at an affordable price. 

The Burrough 205 Computer in 1960's

Baldness however, is never portrayed as an inferior trait, but sometimes the contrary. One of the world's greatest minds, Albert Einstein, is often depicted as being partially bald. Even our prime minister, Dato' Sri Najib is also partially bald, but heads the country. World soccer stars Wayne Rooney, Andres Iniesta, Arjen Robben, and Wesley Sneijder are all naturally bald. Maybe being bald is not so bad after all.

Wayne Rooney, Albert Einstein, and Dato' Sri Najib.. Guess what they have in common?

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