Diet and Hair Loss-
Are they connected?
Baldness Linked to Diet?
By Gabe Mirkin, M.D.
Don't be taken in by ads claiming that male pattern baldness is caused by
blocked pores and that you can cure male pattern baldness by applying a
special shampoo that opens the pores so that hair can break through the
skin and reach the surface. Bald men have almost the same number of hairs
on their heads as those who have full heads of hair. However, the hair of
bald men is so thin, light and short that you can see it only when you
look very closely. Therefore, blocked pores do not cause baldness and
unblocking pores to grow hair is nonsense.
Promoters demonstrate these product by measuring dry hair, applying the
shampoo and then measuring the hair again, showing you that it has grown.
Actually, any wet hair can be stretched and will measure longer than dry
hair. If these products worked, you would not see any bald men walking
around. Don't waste your money. For current theories on baldness, read on.
The old theory was that the male hormone, testosterone, is converted to
another hormone called dihydrotestosterone, that causes hair to grow
darker and longer on the bodies, faces and sides of the head of men.
Dihydrotestosterone also causes male pattern baldness by making hair on
the top of the head thinner, lighter and shorter so you can't see it.
Scientists developed a drug called Proscar to shrink enlarged prostates by
blocking the formation of dihydrotestosterone. The same drug is sold as
Propecia (at five times the cost) to help hair grow on bald men, but it is
not very effective.
More than five years ago I reported that the present treatment for
male-pattern baldness is not very effective and that male pattern baldness
may be caused by insulin resistance, and that the western diet which is
high in sugar and flour may cause irreversible hair loss. A study in the
journal Lancet (Sept. 30, 2000) shows that male pattern baldness may well
be caused by insulin resistance. Male pattern baldness means loss of hair
on the top and front of the head, but not the sides. Insulin resistance
means that a person cannot respond well to insulin causing both men and
women to have very high blood levels of insulin. When you eat, your blood
sugar level rises. To keep blood sugar levels from rising too high, your
pancreas releases insulin which drives sugar from the blood into your
cells. Some people respond poorly to insulin so their blood sugar levels
rise too high and then they produce way too much insulin that causes man
and women to lose hair.
Men who are at high risk for male-pattern baldness have the same
characteristics as those who are likely to develop diabetes. They store
fat primarily in their bellies, rather than their hips, have high blood
triglyceride levels, have low blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol
that prevents heart attacks, have a family history of diabetes , and are
at high risk for suffering a heart attack and eventually developing
Another study from Johns Hopkins shows that men who lose their hair early
usually have high blood levels of insulin like growth factor-1, a hormone
that the body produces in response to high blood sugar levels. Women who
have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome suffer from male-pattern
baldness, have high blood insulin levels and can often be cured by taking
medication to lower blood sugar levels and restricting foods that raise
blood sugar the most, such as those with added sugar, bakery products,
pastas and fruit juices. Eat root vegetables and fruits with other foods,
and eat plenty of vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin has been a radio talk show host for 25 years and
practicing physician for more than 40 years; he is board certified in four
specialties, including sports medicine. Read or listen to hundreds of his
fitness and health reports at http://www.DrMirkin.com
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