With his baritone voice and watermelons for biceps, testosterone seems to just ooze out of Vin Diesel.
Another plus for the bald bad man – he held his own against that other follicely challenged bruiser in the Fast and Furious series, the Rock (OK, fine, Dwayne Johnson). Two bad dudes and nary a hair between them. Is it true, then, that guys with hair loss have more testosterone?
Testosterone does play a role in hair loss among guys. Indeed, testosterone is responsible for the majority of male pattern baldness thanks to an especially potent form of the hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. That role might not be what you think though, and tough guys like Jason Statham and John McClane of Die Hard remain hardcore for reasons other than the manliest of hormones.
Are Bald Guys More Virile?
Bald guys can be bad guys, but it’s not thanks to testosterone. Genetic hair loss in men occurs because they typically have more of an enzyme called 5 alphareductase, which converts free testosterone to DHT. Their hair follicles are sensitive to the latter, which attacks hair growth, making it sparse, until baldness occurs.
Contrary to the long-standing rumor, current logic is that guys with hair loss have less circulating testosterone than men who keep their strands. Don’t feel like you’re singled out if you’re a balding guy though – or that you don’t measure up in the man department. Studies show that women view bald guys as more masculine than men with plentiful locks.
A full two-thirds of American dudes will experience some form of hair loss by 35. And I, for one, would not think the Rock any less of a man than he was ten years ago. Nor would I tell him that. I mean come on, did you see him in Pain & Gain?
Testosterone Influences Hair Loss
Aristostle and Hippocrates were the first to observe the link between hair loss and testosterone. Yale scientist James B. Hamilton delved further into the phenomenon in 1960 when he studied 21 boys undergoing castration (yes, this was a common punishment for boys with mental or behavioural problems at the time).
Bald guys can be bad guys, but it’s not thanks to testosterone. Genetic hair loss in men occurs because they typically have more of an enzyme called 5 alphareductase, which converts free testosterone to DHT.
None of the boys had signs of male pattern baldness when Hamilton checked in with the subjects up to 18 years later. Conversely, guys of the same age with their parts intact – and thus producing testosterone – already had receding hairlines.
Testosterone levels may influence the kinds of hair loss that guys experience as well. Some evidence suggests that men with the highest levels of testosterone are more likely to have ‘vertex’ hair loss, which starts at the crown of the head. Note high testosterone by itself doesn’t make hair loss more likely. These men are already prone to hair loss because of their sensitivity to DHT.
Early Hair Loss and Prostate Cancer
While it’s nothing to stress about, testosterone may affect more than the scalp. Studies have shown mixed results on the link between early hair loss and prostate cancer, but current evidence suggests the connection exists. The concern? Increased risk of prostate cancer in men with hair loss before 20.
In the most recent study, published three years ago in the Annals of Oncology, prostate cancer patients were twice as likely to say they started losing hair by that age than men without the disease. Critics say it proves little, however, other than the chance that guys who start balding early might develop prostate cancer many years later.
The study found no link between the ailment and specific kinds of hair loss. Nor did it find any connection between early balding and prostate cancer symptoms in younger men. Guys who started losing hair at 30 and 40 did not appear to be at higher risk either; the link was only in men with hair loss at 20 or earlier.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, roughly one in four men with male pattern baldness start losing hair before 21.
The link makes sense. DHT has been linked to prostate cancer before. The 2011 study in particular received much scrutiny in health circles: should this subset of guys be screened for prostate cancer? Some observers say no to that – and cast doubt on the study’s implications. Prostate cancer is very common, after all, striking close to one in six men in the U.S.
Will I Get Prostate Cancer Because I Balded Early?
You might, but there are many other factors involved. Critics of the study point out that it does not prove a cause and effect relationship. The findings offer little more than a vague warning that guys with early hair loss might develop prostate cancer later in life. And it adds nothing new to our understanding of the disease or the perceived link to it.
Speak with your doctor if you’re really concerned. You might reduce your risk with some basic precautions that will benefit your health in general – exercise often and limit red meat. Note that fat from red meat appears to be one of the biggest risk factors for the illness.
Watch for symptoms of prostate cancer too, especially once you hit 50. Men who work as welders, with rubber, battery manufacturers or the metal cadmium appear to be at higher risk.
Don’t spend too much time worrying about the link between early hair loss and prostate cancer. You can’t control the age when your hair starts disappearing. The study findings, though slightly alarming, tell us nothing we don’t already know. Use common sense: manage your risk and speak with your doctor.
How to Manage Hair Loss
Some guys pull off a shaved head so well that it’s scary. Vin Diesel immediately comes to mind. The bad-ass/shaved head factor is with Jason Statham too, and Tom Hardy as Bane. And, of course, The Rock. Yeah yeah, Dwayne Johnson.
Having said this, we’re not all 6’5”. These dudes work a shaved head like an ice salesman at an eskimo convention. Curious if you can do the same? Shave it off and see for yourself. Ask a few women if it works for you too. If it does, you’re good to go. Hair loss can take a walk – you’re bold, you’re bad. Now throw it a gravelly voice and the intimidation factor is on your side.
So you’ve done a test shave. Did you like it? There’s your hair loss treatment. Not so much? That’s when you explore other hair loss treatment options. Hair transplants are an option for many guys with hair loss, and the technology improves each year. You’ll pay anywhere from $4,000 to $20,000+ for the procedure, and with multiple sessions often required.
Hair Loss Medications
You’ve heard of Rogaine and Propecia, but have you heard of Profollica? Each has a strong point and weakness. I’d go for Profollica and here’s why.
Rogaine is a topical application. It does not address the cause of male pattern baldness – high levels of 5 alphareductase – and tends to work best in younger men. Rogaine is good for a receding hair line but may not protect against the broad hair loss that most guys experience as they get older.
Then there’s Propecia. This is a prescription hair loss medication and it’s an effective product because it inhibits the enzyme that converts free testosterone to DHT. The downside to Propecia? Some truly creepy side effects, including risk of gynecomastia (man breasts), possible risk of prostate cancer, ejaculation problems, ED and impotence.
Some estimates put up to 18.5% of male Propecia clients having impotence. In some cases, it’s permanent. So much for virility.
I’d go with Profollica because it’s a natural hair loss treatment. The product shows promising results, with trichogen – found in the Profollica formula – being linked to reduced hair loss among 90% of men in a clinical trial.
Profollica is designed to inhibit conversion of testosterone to DHT with natural ingredients. It’s a system, of an herbal supplement with biotin and an activator gel. You can add the optional shampoo, too, for best results.
Consider it, anyway. Whichever hair loss treatment you choose, it’s important to accept the hand that you’re dealt. Whether that’s a shaved head or hair loss medication, you’re a man with hair loss. Speak with your doctor about any specific health concerns, but it’s likely you’ve lost hair because you’re like 90% of guys: testosterone and genes. You’re a man, dude – step up and be proud of it.