Health

The ‘Short’ Answer to Premature Baldness Worries

A DNA test may soon be able to tell men if — alas — they'll be among the afflicted

An international genetic study of more than 20,000 men from seven different countries recently found that premature hair loss is linked to a range of physical characteristics.

Among them is — you guessed it — height. Or, rather, a lack thereof.

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Actor Danny DeVito, among many others, is both short and bald — but has said he learned to compensate early in life for his 5’0″ height. He noted he only felt it was a disadvantage as a teenager.

“I learned how to dance real good,” he told The Guardian. “I had to, because I couldn’t slow dance [without knowing how].”

It otherwise appears to have worked out well for him — as it has for Paul Simon, Jason Alexander, and plenty of others.

Men with premature hair loss also appear to be at a slightly greater risk for heart disease and prostate cancer. The research also found a connection between being short and an earlier occurrence of puberty.

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“We have also found links to light skin color and increased bone density,” Professor Markus Nöthen, director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn, said in a statement.

“These could indicate that men with hair loss are better able to use sunlight to synthesize vitamin D. They could also explain why white men in particular lose their hair prematurely.”

More research is needed to clearly define these links, however.

“Men with premature hair loss do not need to be concerned,” reassured Professor Nöthen. “The risks of illness are only increased slightly. It is, however, exciting to see that hair loss is by no means an isolated characteristic, but instead displays various relationships with other characteristics.”

The University of Bonn study comes on the heels of another that showed certain genetic markers can help predict who may go bald.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in January said that while a DNA test may be some distance off, it’s possible there may soon be a test to identify populations at risk for hair loss earlier, which would allow for the development of targeted treatments for baldness or related conditions.

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