For Danny Roddy, author of Hair like a Fox, this specter is personal. He has made it a personal challenge to learn and apply all that he can to keep his hair. At the age of 19, he embarked on a journey to keep his hair- hair loss, a fear, he claims was imprinted in his childhood. His direction was misdirection and loss of hair until he came across the work of Dr. Ray Peat.
Dr. Ray Peat
Some will recognize his name. Dr. Peat had been a researcher and done some of the foundational work on progesterone upon which Dr. John Lee based his clinical work on progesterone and osteoporosis. Dr. Peat continues to this day to question conventional thinking.
The Famous Androgen Hypothesis
Let’s examine the history first. In the 1940’s Dr. James B Hamilton published his observations of 104 eunuchs. Eunuchs do not mature sexually and all of them retain their scalp hair, have reduced oiliness of the scalp and little to no dandruff. Seeing this connection, Dr. Hamilton administered testosterone to men who were not bald but with a family history of baldness and soon they experienced hair loss. The hair loss abated when the treatment stopped. In the eunuchs, testosterone treatment also caused hair loss but it continued even after the treatment stopped. Dr. Hamilton concluded that baldness was caused by androgens (testosterone).
Dr. Julianne Imperator-McGinley discovered a population in a remote area of the Dominican Republic that were born with ambiguous sexual features but developed externally at about the age of 13. These men had no signs of baldness, had small prostate size and normal testosterone levels. However, they lacked the enzyme needed to convert testosterone to its stronger metabolite DHT (dihydrotestosterone). Dr. Imperator-McGinley became convinced that it was DHT not testosterone that was responsible for male pattern baldness
Merck Comes on the Scene
Merck scientists became aware of Dr. Imperator-McGinley’s discovery and determined to develop a drug which would block the production of DHT to help men with enlarged prostate glands. The drug finasteride was created. By happy circumstance (for Merck) men begin to regrow their hair as well. But this was not without other problems. These men would suffer side effects such as erectile dysfunction, lack of libido, depression and suicide in large percentages of users. And it was not the total answer for the hair problem either, it was only effective for about 40% of the men who took it.
The Paradox (or the Hypothesis Falls Apart)
When theory doesn’t hold very well, there is a problem. Why do young men with the highest testosterone and DHT have the best hair? And why does balding occur when the hormone levels are dropping with age. Why do women experience male pattern baldness? A genetic sensitivity has been proposed. Roddy cites numbers of half the men and women over 40 experience hair loss.
Review by Carol Petersen and published at www.womensinternational.com