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Truth about hair loss

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Most men have one objectionable thing in common. 70 per cent of them will suffer from male baldness at some point in their life. It could be as young as 20 or someone in their 70’s. For probably centuries, men have been trying to keep their hair on. To beat the odds is like counting stars in an empty sky. Could scientists finally be getting to the root of the problem? Stay tuned.

There have been hundreds of attempts to stop or reverse baldness over the years. One such fix was boiling a cup of mustard oil with four tbsp. of bleach and massaging it daily onto the balding areas. Better yet, a paste created from honey, beer and boiled wheat was gingerly applied to the scalp. Or you could rub goose droppings onto your dome, the way the Vikings did. There are likely as many desperate remedies out there as there are receding hairlines.

Prince William has taken a bold step in facing his male pattern baldness head-on. His new close-cropped hairstyle is contemporary and smart. The undeniable truth is that when hair loss reaches the tipping point, the best a man can do is to go short.

The natural conclusion to baldness-denial sits atop Donald Trump’s head, and no one wants to think of an arrangement like that under the crown of the future king. Then there is Bruce Willis: He has faced his thinning with dignity and humour. His new look proclaims that he has embraced his fate – and he looks younger to boot.

When men lose their hair, it can be devastating. In my case, I have one spot on the back of my head that is starting to thin out. However instead of agonizing, I use it as a talking-point. President Trump said he also has one in the same place. So I say, “If it’s something that the President admits too, I guess I’m with a powerful crowd.”

Receding hairlines and bald spots plague men of every race, creed, and status. But why? According to Bernard Arocha, M.D., owner of Arocha Hair Restoration, “There are more than 100 thousand follicles on a full scalp, all of which follow growth and rest phases.”

The growing phase usually lasts about three to six years, during which time each hair matures in thickness and colour. The resting phase, when a hair ends its growth phase and falls out, lasts about 90 days. At any given time, only about 10 per cent of follicles are in the resting phase, so normal hair loss is not noticeable.” 

Many advertisements around show, “balding is now optional,” featuring men in states of elation and all having a full head of hair. This marketing by a company called “Hims” implies there has been some sort of breakthrough in the science of hair loss – but they haven’t proved it.

Hang on though, this could be changing. Recently a series of scientific publications has explored advances that involve both stem-cell research and 3-D printing, with the goal of cloning a person’s actual hair and then inserting it into the scalp in tremendous, unlimited quantities.

“For a long time, we’ve been saying this is 10 years away,” says Robert Bernstein, a dermatologist in Manhattan who specializes in hair transplantation. “But now it actually might be less.” Initially hair was thought to be the simplest to create in the lab but in actual fact it turned out to be far too complex. Another in a long series of setbacks.

The answer then has to be in generating new hair. This science known as cell therapy, will derive from a person’s own stem cells. Using cells from a person’s own body minimizes the risk that the immune system will reject the hair transplants. The ultimate goal among scientists is to create “hair farms.”

The entrepreneur Geoff Hamilton, the CEO of Stemson Therapeutics, is working on just that, cloning hair follicles. At a major conference some months ago, Hamilton recounted successfully transplanting human hair follicles into mice. Only one step from mice to the human head. Surely the elimination of baldness can’t be that far off.

Avoiding baldness is not an option for the majority of men. Then why not let the majority rule! Hair loss is only one of life’s sufferings and when submitting to that, freedom from distressing about it will be found.