The researchers took an interesting strategy to study both genetic and behavioral factors: they studied a set of 92 identical male twins.
Each of the twins were studied in a number of ways:
Testosterone levels were measured in their saliva
Digital photographs of their hair (or lack of it)
Precise measurements of front, side, and top of head hairlines
Observer judgments of hair thinning in each part of the head
Questionnaire regarding their lifetime of behaviors
Then, each man’s hair loss was correlated with their behaviors over a lifetime, and compared with their identical twins.
The theory is, each identical twin has roughly the same genetics, but different behaviors, so this is a way to see how much genes vs. behaviors tend to influence hair loss.
The Nine Factors That Affect Men’s Hair Loss
1) Genetics & Balding
Unsurprisingly, genetics played the biggest factor in hair loss in front and on top (but not on the sides).
If hair loss is in your genes, you are more likely to lose your hair.
2) Age (Older = Hair Loss)
Again, not surprising: the older a man was, the more likely he was to have hair loss.
This was true on every part of the head.
3) The Number Of Children (More equals More Hair Loss!)
Maybe this one isn’t as surprising to those who have children: the more children a man had, the less hair he had in the front.
Possibly, this is due to the increased stress associated with having children (but they’re worth it anyway, right?)
4) Diet & Hair Loss (Specifically Caffeine & Alcohol)
More caffeine was correlated with more hair loss in the front and top of the head.
Those men who drank more than 4 alcoholic drinks in a week had more hair loss on the sides and top of the head.
Interestingly, those men who completely refrained from alcohol also had more hair loss on the sides and top of the head.
5) Smoking & Hair Loss
Men who smoked had more hair loss on the front and top of their head.
The researchers suggested that smoking restricts blood flow to hair follicles, and this makes the follicles die.
6) Skin Disease History & Balding
Men who had a history of skin disease lost more hair on average on the sides and top.
7) Clothing (Hats and Balding)
Here’s a surprise: wearing a hat actually protected men from hair loss on the sides of their head.
I’ve always heard that hat-wearing led to hair loss, but the researchers suggested that hats protect the scalp from sun damage, and this may explain why hat-wearing prevents hair loss.
8) Stress & Balding
Here’s another interesting twist: increased lifelong stress led to less hair on the top of the head, but more on the sides.
9) Hormones & Hair Loss
Twins with more salivary testosterone than their twin counterparts had more hair on the sides of their heads.
This might be an important time to mention that correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Just because these factors were associated with more hair loss, that doesn’t mean there’s a direct causal link.
It could be that there are other factors that cause both the behaviors and the hair loss. However, if this information helps you quit smoking or cut down on excessive drinking, don’t let this stop you.
6 Ways To Prevent Hair Loss
Cut back on the caffeine
Drink moderately (under 4 drinks a week – Some drinking is actually helpful for preventing hair loss!)
Wear a hat – think straws & looser hats that protect from the sun!
Increase testosterone intake.
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