MadSci Network: Anatomy

Re: Does water change factor in hair loss for men ? Even teenagers ?

Date: Fri Apr 17 05:46:35 2009
Posted By: Sean Hunt, Secondary School Teacher
Area of science: Anatomy
ID: 1237241825.An

studies in 2005 and 2007 (see 1 below) have shown that baldness is indeed
X-linked. In other words a recessive gene (or combination of genes) that is
inherited down the maternal line. It is not a straight forward inheritance
as the gene is recessive which (as you may know) means that it would have
to express itself in order to cause baldness. Hence there is no guarantee
that your son, should you have one, will be bald even if your future wife's
grandfather and father were bald. 

There are a number of causes of baldness and I refer you to an excellent
website (see 2 below) for further details. It may be caused by genetic or
environmental factors. As to treatment for your hair loss I would advise
that you visit a dermatologist so that you can be given an accurate
diagnosis and appropriate advice. There are only two approved drugs
available which actually work so beware of bogus treatments. 

As to Texas water, I am at a loss to come up with a decent explanation that
I could satisfy you with. Certainly chemical poisoning can cause hair loss
as can iron deficiency. The large number of bald kids in your school is
certainly unusual but could be simply a statistical high. For example
temporary hair loss in a large number of individuals could be caused by
fungal infections such as ringworm which are extremely contagious. Also
common is hair loss due to stress although this tends to be more localised
on the scalp. Should you visit a dermatologist and receive an inconclusive
diagnosis to your baldness then it might be worth investigating the water
situation further. 

There could be a problem with the water which could indicate chemical or
radiological contamination. However the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) and the Texas water authorities do monitor drinking water safety
especially for schools and hospitals. Having said that there was a famous
case in the 1960's involving Erin Brockovich where it was shown that
drinking water contained the poisonous metal ion Chromium VI. I am certain
that there is no malicious intent to contaminate your drinking water but it
can happen occasionally. If you suspect poisoning then see a doctor get a
positive diagnosis then allow the relevant authorities to investigate. 

1.Hillmer AM, Hanneken S, Genetic variation in the human androgen receptor
gene is the major determinant of common early-onset Androgenetic Alopecia
(AGA). Department of Genomics, Life and Brain Center, University of Bonn,
Bonn, Germany.


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