Why Do We Go Bald?
If you've been looking at your hair and wondering why, dear god, WHY do some of us go bald as we get older? We have the answer.
It turns into skin.
Okay, I know. This sounds obvious. However, for the first time, researchers have pinpointed a mechanism that turns age-damaged stem cells in hair follicles into skin. So, as you get older this happens more and more. Which means, eventually, you have no hair follicles left in certain areas on your head.
Contrary to popular belief, hair follicles do not produce hair steadily. The hair cycle goes between dormant and active phases.
Researchers at Tokyo Medical and Dental University took some mice, and looked at their follicle stem cell growth cycles. They found that the age-related DNA damage starts a chain of events in terms of protein. Collagen 17A1 begins to break down and is eventually destructed. This is then transformed into 'epidermal keratinocytes' (aka skin).
They then tested this research on humans and found that people aged over 55 also had smaller follicles and had less Collagen 17A1.
Emi Nishimura led the research, she said: "We assume that ageing processes and mechanisms explain the human age-associated hair thinning and hair loss."
Wired.co.uk reported that hair follicle stem cells are now probably going to be used to help study more general stem cell behaviour. Although this is unlikely to be the ONLY cause for hair loss, it's certainly a step in the right direction in terms of understanding why it happens.
Don't worry though, lads. There may be a cure.