The delicate nature of cells and the ways in which they can be affected by external stimuli is at the heart of multiple studies, including those into the causes of hair loss
. Increasingly, the genetic condition male pattern baldness
is being associated with something called “oxidative stress” - particularly in relation to premature hair loss in young men.
Oxidative stress is medically defined as ‘a state of physiological or psychological strain caused by adverse stimuli, physical, mental, or emotional, internal or external, that tend to disturb the functioning of an organism and which the organism naturally desires to avoid’.
The body is under constant bombardment from oxidative stress and causes are thought to include a variety of lifestyle and environmental
issues. Everything from smoking to excessive alcohol consumption to a 'bad' or unbalanced diet (including an excess of sugars, animal proteins and preservatives) has been blamed.
Premature ageing = early onset genetic hair loss
At least two studies have been investigating the link, one of which involved Belgravia’s hair transplant partner, Dr Bessam Farjo, who worked with several other doctors from London on a report entitled Oxidative Stress-Associated Senescence in Dermal Papilla Cells of Men with Androgenetic Alopecia.
By way of explanation, ‘senescence’ means the ageing process, while androgenetic alopecia
(AGA) is hair loss caused by genetic pre-programming - male pattern baldness or, for women, female pattern hair loss. Dermal papilla cells are at the heart of hair follicles
In the London team’s study, dermal papilla cells (DPCs) taken from men with genetic hair loss were seen to undergo senescense in vitro (test tube/culture dish) in association with the expression of p16 (INK4a), suggesting that DPCs from scalps predisposed to male pattern baldness are more sensitive to environmental stress than those which are not.
As one of the major triggers of senescence in vitro stems from the cell "culture shock" owing to oxidative stress, state the doctors, they further investigated the effects of oxidative stress on balding and occipital scalp DPCs. The reason for this is that the occipital region of the scalp - the lower part that runs from ear to ear, from the occipital bone to the nape - is unaffected by male pattern baldness. Androgenetic alopecia only causes thinning hair
around the top of the scalp and hairline, as shown in the diagram below.
Summing up their findings, they wrote: “Balding DPCs secreted higher levels of the negative hair growth regulators transforming growth factor beta 1 and 2 in response to H2O2 but not cell culture-associated oxidative stress. Balding DPCs had higher levels of catalase and total glutathione but appear to be less able to handle oxidative stress compared with occipital DPCs. These in vitro findings suggest that there may be a role for oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of AGA (male pattern hair loss) both in relation to cell senescence and migration but also secretion of known hair follicle inhibitory factors.”
This report predates that of a team of doctors in Turkey who discovered
that men with early-onset male pattern hair loss (which can begin when a man is in his teens or 20s) were more likely to have high levels of oxidative stress. They also found that men with a family history of genetic hairloss displayed higher levels of oxidative stress.
Avoid accelerating hair thinning?
The findings suggest that having a healthy lifestyle, diet and avoiding certain “vices” may be a way to reduce oxidative stress and, perhaps, avoid speeding up the onset of genetic thinning. Unfortunately, male pattern baldness cannot yet be put off or halted forever: when men are genetically pre-programmed to lose hair in this way it will happen sooner or later. When it does, men are faced with a choice of letting nature take its course or using clinically-proven treatments to intervene.
Solo or combined use of the DHT
-blocking, one-a-day tablet finasteride 1mg
and topical applications of the vasodilator, high strength minoxidil
may be used to help combat hair loss and promote hair growth.
These are currently the only MHRA licensed and FDA approved treatments for men's hair loss from androgenetic alopecia. As such, this is a common approach to tackling genetic hair thinning from a balding crown to a receding hairline
Tailored male hair loss treatment
courses may also include other supplementary
products. These range from the highly-targeted food supplement Hair Vitalics for Men, to follicle-stimulating low level laser therapy (LLLT) delivered via home-use, FDA-cleared devices.
By looking at hair loss holistically
, it can be possible to identify areas of a person's lifestyle or environment that may have the potential to trigger or speed up male pattern baldness. With expert insight, advice and on-going support throughout the treatment journey, these added issues can often be minimised where possible or at least effectively managed in order to help prevent baldness