Testosterone and hair loss: is there a link?The most common cause of hair loss in men is androgenic alopecia, otherwise known as male pattern baldness. It’s a genetic condition which will have affected at least half of the male population by the time they’re 50 years old from partial thinning to total loss. The condition is characterised by a gradually receding hairline, along with thinning of the crown and has no known cure.

No observable link between testosterone and hair loss

For many years it has been believed that there is a relationship between testosterone levels and androgenic alopecia and this has been backed up by laboratory tests in vitro (not in living organisms). Recently, a study by Kische and colleagues, which was published in JAMA Dematology has contradicted this theory, claiming that there is no observable link. The relatively simple study was carried out with a cross section of men from North Eastern Germany. In total 373 individuals who had not taken any drugs in the last 7 days (to avoid contaminating the results) were involved. Blood samples were drawn and analysed to measure the levels of testosterone. When these were compared with incidences of hair loss in the group it was clear that there was no correlation between hair loss and testosterone levels.

There is a link but it’s not to do with levels of the hormone

The study does not conclude that there is no link beween testosterone and hair loss though. Whilst it seems to demonstrate that the level of testosterone is not responsible the results are consistent with previous results which show that alopecia could be caused by an increase in sensitivity to androgens like testosterone. So, in conclusion there is still probably a link between testosterone and hair loss but it’s not the concentration of the hormone in the body that’s the cause of the problem.

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By Ian Watson

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