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New York City Dermatologist Dr. Schweiger looks at the science of male pattern baldness in this article on

The most common cause of hair loss in men is clinically called androgenetic (also androgenic) alopecia, which is also referred to as male pattern baldness. In their recent paper "Update on Pathogenesis, Genetics and Medical Treatments of Patterned Hair Loss," published in the November 2010 issue of Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, coauthors Dr. Eric Schweiger and Dr. Robert Bernstein reviewed the major advances in the genetics of men's hair loss over the past decade, as well as our understanding of how it is caused. The HairDX genetic screening test is used to predict, prior to the onset of symptoms, whether a man will experience pattern hair loss. The test is sold to doctors in a kit and administered by a simple cheek swab. It detects the presence of eight specific variants in the androgen receptor (AR) gene that are found on the X chromosome. Dr. Schweiger points out that no specific "baldness gene" has been identified with certainty. “I think the test has probably identified a predictor of hair loss, but not the only predictor. There is science behind the test and some published research studies; however, the longitudinal, larger studies have not been done, because this testing procedure is just too new.” Any genetic testing should be performed under a doctor’s supervision so that it can be put in the context of a careful history, a physical examination and a densitometry hair evaluation. “Right now, we predict future hair loss based on follicle miniaturization, using advanced microscopic equipment,” says Dr. Schweiger, “and I advise a man to do this at around age 25. If someone presents with more than 25 percent miniaturization, then it’s time to start a hair loss prevention regimen.” To read more about the science of male pattern baldness at featuring Dr. Schweiger, click here.

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