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Baldness

Several years ago I reported that the present treatment for male-pattern baldness is not very effective and that male pattern baldness may be caused by insulin resistance, and that a diet high in sugar and flour may cause irreversible hair loss.

The old theory was that the male hormone, testosterone, is converted to another hormone called dihydrotestosterone, that causes hair to grow darker and longer on the bodies, faces and sides of the head of men. Dihydrotestosterone also causes male pattern baldness by making hair on the top of the head thinner, lighter and shorter so you can't see it. Scientists developed a drug called Proscar to shrink enlarged prostates by blocking the formation of dihydrotestosterone. Entrepreneurs sell the same drug as Propecia and charge five times as much to help hair grow on bald men, but it is not very effective.

A study in the journal Lancet showed that male pattern baldness may well be caused by insulin resistance. Male pattern baldness means loss of hair on the top and front of the head, but not the sides. Insulin resistance means that a person cannot respond well to insulin causing both men and women to have very high blood levels of insulin. When you eat, your blood sugar level rises.. To keep blood sugar levels from rising too high, your pancreas releases insulin which drives sugar from the blood into your cells. Some people respond poorly to insulin so their blood sugar levels rise too high and then they produce way too much insulin that causes man and women to lose hair.

Men who are at high risk for male-pattern baldness have the same characteristics as those who are likely to develop diabetes. They store fat primarily in their bellies, rather than their hips, have high blood triglyceride levels, have low blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol that prevents heart attacks, have a family history of diabetes , and are at high risk for suffering a heart attack and eventually developing diabetes.

Another study from Johns Hopkins showed that men who lose their hair early have high blood levels of insulin like growth factor-1, a hormone that the body produces in response to high blood sugar levels. Women who have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome suffer from male-pattern baldness, have high blood insulin levels and can often be cured by taking medication to lower blood sugar levels and restricting foods and drinks that raise blood sugar the most, such as those with added sugar, bakery products, pastas and fruit juices. Eat root vegetables and fruits with other foods, and eat plenty of vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.

Don't be taken in by ads claiming that male pattern baldness is caused by blocked pores and that you can cure male pattern baldness by applying a special shampoo that opens the pores so that hair can break through the skin and reach the surface. Bald men have almost the same number of hairs on their heads as those who have full heads of hair. However, the hair of bald men is so thin, light and short that you can see it only when you look very closely. Therefore, blocked pores do not cause baldness and unblocking pores to grow hair is nonsense. Promoters demonstrate these product by measuring dry hair, applying the shampoo and then measuring the hair again, showing you that it has grown. Actually, any wet hair can be stretched and will measure longer than dry hair. If these products worked, you would not see any bald men walking around. Don't waste your money.

1) Lancet (September 30, 2000 page 1165)

2) Lotufo PA et al. Male pattern baldness and coronary heart disease. Arch Intern Med. 2000(Jan24);160:165-171.

3) J Androl 1997;18:495-500.

4) Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:1925-1933.

5) J Am Acad Derm 1998;39(4pt1):578-589.

6) J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 1994;50:169-174.

7) AL Dallob, NS Sadick, W Unger, S Lipert, LA Geissler, SL Gregoire, HH Nguyen, EC Moore, WK Tanaka. The effect of finasteride, a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor, on scalp skin testosterone and dihydrotestosterone concentrations in patients with male pattern baldness. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1994(Sep);79(3):703-706.

8)F Fruzzetti, D Delorenzo, D Parrini, C Ricci. Effects of finasteride, a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor, on circulating androgens and gonadotropin secretion in hirsute women. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 1994(Sept);79(3):831-835.

9) E Stoner, GL Andriole, R Boake, BR Bracken, W Brannan,H Fuselier, W Bremner, RC Bruskewitz, CE Cox, AL Patterson, GR Cunningham, PC Devine, PF Schellhammer, M Elhilali, J Geller, JT Grayhack, LH Harrison, PB Hudson, J Imperato, ED Vaughan, MM Lieber, MC Lippert, GH Malek, JD Mcconnell, P Narayan, JP Perreault, MI Resnick, R Norman, R Rittmaster, NA Romas et al. 3-Year Safety and Efficacy Data on the Use of Finasteride in the Treatment of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia. Urology 1994(March); 43(3):284-294.

10) L Rhodes, J Harper, H Uno, G Gaito, J Audettearruda, S Kurata, C Berman, R Primka, B Pikounis. The effects of finasteride (Proscar) on hair growth, hair cycle stage, and serum testosterone and dihydrotestosterone in adult male and female stumptail macaques (Macaca arctoides). Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism 79: 4 (OCT 1994) Page(s) 991-996.

11) EA Platz, MN Pollak, WC Willett, E Giovannucci. Vertex balding, plasma insulin-like growth factor 1, and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2000, Vol 42, Iss 6, pp 1003-1007

Checked 8/9/16

May 16th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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