Long Story Short
Bad news. If you’re short, you might be at a greater risk of prematurely balding. Indeed, a new international genetic study links hair loss to a range of physical characteristics and illnesses.
Ever noticed how your short uncles are also your bald uncles? Well, turns out there might be a reason for that. A new international genetics study published in Nature Communications has found a link between a man’s height and the likelihood he’ll bald prematurely. Basically, if you’re short on height you might need to prepare for being short on hair.
But that’s not all. The study, led by the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn in Germany, investigated over 20,000 men to find that premature hair loss is linked to various physical characteristics and illnesses including earlier puberty, various cancers, light skin color and increased bone density.
This is on top of previous discoveries that linked premature baldness to heart disease and prostate cancer. The prostate cancer link was backed up by the new study but the heart disease risk was a little more complicated — genes that reduce the risk were found along with genes that increase the risk.
“We were … able to identify 63 alterations in the human genome that increase the risk of premature hair loss,” explained Dr. Stefanie Heilmann-Heimbach in a news release. The human geneticist at the University of Bonn is one of the lead authors of the study. “Some of these alterations were also found in connection with other characteristics and illnesses.”
But what’s going on here is only understood to a certain extent. Now the challenge begins to analyze these molecular mechanisms in greater detail.
Either way, if you’re losing your hair you need not worry too much (beyond that infuriatingly sparse patch that’s appearing on your scalp).
“The risks of illness are only increased slightly,” explained Professor Markus Nöthen, also of the University of Bonn. “It is, however, exciting to see that hair loss is by no means an isolated characteristic, but instead displays various relationships with other characteristics.”
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So what counts as short and what counts as premature?
Drop This Fact
Two-thirds of men will have some hair loss by the age of 35.