What is the Connection Between Baldness and Genetics?

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  • Written By: Jacob Queen
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 10 February 2020
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Experts have found a clear connection between male pattern baldness and genetics, but the exact mechanism behind this connection isn’t fully understood. One thing that seems to be relatively certain is that men inherit their baldness much more from their mother’s relatives than their father’s. A near-definite genetic connection has been found in the X chromosome in men and baldness, and the X chromosome is always inherited from the mother. Many experts also think there are more genes involved that may also include some genes from the father's side, which could mean that both parents play a role in whether or not someone eventually develops baldness.

Scientists have done studies for many years trying to determine whether or not baldness is inherited, but for a long time, there was only anecdotal evidence. Many experts had found more baldness in relatives on the mother’s sides when studying the heredity of men with baldness. This didn’t necessarily establish a connection between baldness and genetics, but it pointed experts in a general direction for study.

The actual mechanism behind male pattern baldness is generally thought to be hormonal. When a man suffers from male pattern baldness, his scalp is generally producing a hormone that converts his testosterone into another substance. This other substance, which is called dihydrotestosterone, has the potential to disrupt hair growth by changing the normal growth cycle of hair follicles and eventually shrinking them.


In reality, most men actually lose some of their hair as they age, and it can happen at very different speeds. Some men may start to suffer from hair loss as early as their late teens, while other men may not have problems until they reach 70 or 80 years old. There are also men who never have any problems with hair loss. Overall, there is a general trend for men’s hair to thin with age, but the timing can vary drastically. According to some experts, the connection between baldness and genetics is more a matter of what age balding begins than anything else.

Some medications have been developed which can slow down or reverse baldness, but they don’t work in every case. They also generally require constant use in order to maintain any results that are achieved. Some experts believe that understanding the connection between baldness and genetics may enable researchers to come up with new effective therapies.



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