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For many it means nothing at all, but to others it is the epitome of their identity. As humans, our appearance is often important to us and our hair plays a huge role. Whether you have long flowing locks or a swept back do, the way you wear your hair can say something about you. But what if you start to lose it?
Forty per cent of men experience hair loss by the age of 35, according to the Belgravia Centre UK, one of Europe's largest hair loss treatment centres. This figure rises to 80% by the age of 80. And women are far from exempt from losing clumps of hair, with 50% of them suffering some form of hair loss in their life.
It starts with a receding hairline, followed by a thinning of hair on the crown of the head and temples and before you know it, your scalp is showing and you're completely bald. Every human naturally loses between 50 and 100 hairs a day, according to the UK National Health Service. Excluding hair loss caused by disease, baldness is genetic. It's related to the hormone testosterone, which causes a shrinking of hair follicles in susceptible adults. This results in the loss of so called 'terminal' adult hair and the production of much finer 'vellus' hairs - like those on the heads of babies.
It can cause considerable damage to emotional health, including loss of self-esteem and confidence.' a spokesman for the British Association of Dermatologists told the BBC. But if you can't hide it with a comb-over, or a wig, what can you do? Well, the ancient Greek medic Hippocrates recommended a mixture of pigeon droppings, mixed with horseradish, cumin and nettles liberally applied to the pate. Since then there has been a liberal dose of tonics, creams, pills and hair replacement surgery. All of which have had mixed results.
Now, a potential new cure has been found in a drug that was designed to treat osteoporosis. The research, published in PLOS Biology, states that the drug contains a compound that targets a protein which inhibits hair growth and plays a role in balding. In short, it stimulates hair to grow. Keep your hair on,though. Clinical trials need to take place to ensure the drug is effective and safe to give people.
And besides, many would say that being bald improves a person's appearance. Researchers at The University of Pennsylvania asked male and female students to rate photographs of men according to their attractiveness, confidence and dominance. In all three categories, the bald men came out ahead - and not just by a hair's breadth.
So, whether you love it or hate it or whether it's happening to you right now, you aren't alone. A cure may very soon be on its way. Until then, relax and let your hair down.
clumps of hair
crown of the head
keep your hair on
a hair's breadth
let your hair down