TV star and sometime writer Graham Norton is famous for his rapier-like wit, but it was even sharper than usual last week when he responded to a hair loss query from a “concerned would-be father” in his regular letters slot in the Daily Telegraph.
Hereditary hair loss concerns
“Dear Graham,” began the letter, “I have a beautiful girlfriend and want desperately for us to get married and start a family together. The one problem, however, is that her father is as bald as a coot.” The writer – known only as Jason – goes on to explain how his girlfriend’s father was “pretty much hairless” by his early 20s.
The writer then says that he understands that baldness is carried by the maternal grandfather and suggests that, as a result, any boys he may have with his girlfriend will have a high propensity for Male Pattern Hair Loss.
“I don’t feel I could do this to them – it’s simply not fair,” he states.
Rolling up his sleeves for an acerbic reply, the Irish TV presenter writes: “Ironically for your children, going bald wouldn’t be the worst thing that happened to them – because that would be having you as a father.”
He goes on to state that to avoid having children out of concern over possible hereditary hair loss is “a misguided way to approach marriage and a family.”
What’s unclear is whether or not the letter from Jason was a joke – it seems unlikely that anyone would put off having children for fear of them one day becoming bald. But perhaps he has a valid concern. With body image so intrinsically linked to young men’s sense of who they are and also their confidence, might the letter be a serious and heartfelt question from a doting would-be dad?
What is certain is that Male Pattern Baldness, even when it strikes prematurely when a man is still in his late teens, is not necessarily “for keeps”. Medical advancements mean there are a number of proven hair loss treatments available which can help to stop this shedding and, in many cases, even produce regrowth.
Hair loss genetics
As for Jason’s assertion that it is the maternal grandfather whose genes will dictate whether or not children are predisposed to MPB, he is definitely on shaky ground: the genes of both the maternal and paternal grandfather are just as likely to play a part. But what about both grandfathers? If both showed signs of hair loss in their late teens or early 20s, is MPB among male offspring an inevitability?
Leonora Doclis, Senior Trichologist at Belgravia, explains this common source of confusion: “Male Pattern Hair Loss is genetic and can be inherited from either your mother or your father’s side of the family. Recent research has revealed that it is more likely to be inherited through your father’s genes although this was only one study“.
Making an important point, she adds, “Let’s not forget that, although he only mentions his future sons, genetic hair loss can also affect women, causing them thinning hair from Female Pattern Hair Loss“.
“Furthermore, even if you do possess the hair loss gene, that does not mean that it will become active,” notes Leonora. “In many people it can lie dormant, which is why hair loss may appear to ‘skip’ some generations, or people believe they cannot have genetic hair loss because none of their family have experienced balding”.
The idea of not having children for fear of them experiencing hair loss seems outrageous. Particularly given that, even if it was a major source of concern, thanks to on-going research into future hair loss treatments, there is a strong chance of eradicating Male Pattern Baldness completely within the next few decades.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.