hair lossWe all know that as we get older our hair becomes thinner and more brittle and that the incidence of hair loss increases for men and women.  It seems obvious really but now a team of researchers in Sinagpore, working with University of South Carolina Pharmacy School Department of Drug Discovery have gone some way to establishing the physiological reasons for this form of hair loss.

The science behind age related hair loss

The team of researchers, led by Thomas Dawson believe from A*STAR believe that age related hair loss (chronogenetic alopecia) could be caused by the slowing of the metabolism.  Interestingly this  may go some way to explaining how younger people can also suffer alopecia without any firm explanation.  As he explains “Any time there is a screw up in your metabolism you lose hair. People who go on crash diets, students undertaking exams, all will lose hair—only a small change in metabolism makes a noticeable difference."

Hair growth is an energy intensive process

One of the discoveries made by the team is actually how energy intensive the process of growing hair is.  A normal human will grow approximately two metres of hair across their body every hour and when you consider that the amount of energy used in growing one gram of hair is similar to six minutes of intense exercise it’s not hard to see how easily hair growth can be affected by a change in metabolism. Through the use of laser microscopy the team have established that there is a relationship between mitochondrial metabolism, reactive oxygen and the slowing in growth of hair.  Although this hasn’t resulted in a treatment to date the research team are obviously hopeful that their findings will lead to a greater breakthrough in tackling chronogenetic alopecia.  Definitely one to keep an eye on for the future.

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By Ian Watson

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