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Can be bald in 20s!
By Jo Hee-won  |  heewondd@hanyang.ac.kr
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[307호] 승인 2010.03.02  
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   Ko Seong-yeo, a student at Ewha Womans University, is worried about something unusual these days. The problem is that she is losing her hair although she is only in her mid-twenties. Also, Jung Min-chul, a Sophomore of the School of Business, shares this worry with Ko. He is not losing his hair these days, but he has always been worried about becoming bald. Since both his father and grandfather are bald, he is worried that the family genetics will work its magic soon.
   The worry that Ko and Jung have is not a minor problem. According to statics from Lee Moon-won Oriental Medicine Clinic, about 43 percent of baldness patients are in their 20s. Also, the percentage of patients who are in their 30s is about 36 percent. Today, the percentage of young baldness patients is steadily increasing. Why does baldness begin so early? And what are the precautions for not going bald?

Baldness, the Hereditary Disease
   Jung is worried about being bald because it runs in his family. In his case, he has hereditary baldness. Hereditary baldness is caused by the deoxyribonucleic acid inherited from one? parents. Also, baldness appears more often in men, but a person can inherit baldness from both his father and mother. 
   Generally, hereditary baldness starts with the symptom that some hair does not grow well, and gets finer than normal hair. Once it starts to show the symptoms of baldness, the progression of the baldness is continued slowly as a person grows older. As the symptoms get worse, the hairs which got finer disappear gradually. Testosterone, the male sex hormone, and dihydrotestosterone are involved in this progress. Testosterone shortens the period that hairs take to grow and reduces the size of follicles which is one of the small hollows in the skin where hairs grow. Due to the participation of testosterone, people occasionally misunderstand that a person with a bald head has a lot of male sex hormone. Noh Yoon-woo, a director of Maxwell Dermatology, said "It is not true that having a bald head is the symbol of masculinity. The hormones operation is caused by the differences in sensitivity at the normal male hormone production level."
   However, even though both of a man's father and grandfather are bald, it does not always mean that he will become bald, meaning that there are some ways of preventing hereditary baldness. It is because they inherit constitution or shape of a bald head, not the baldness itself. They are just more likely to be bald than others who did not inherit the same DNA. When a person has the specific DNA, there is something called expressivity. This means that the DNA becomes active and starts showing symptoms or diseases. The expressivity of the baldness is deeply related by factors like hormones, age, living habits and so on. Therefore, if a person pays attention to those things, one could prevent hair loss to some degree. 

Baldness, the Stress Disease
   In the case of Ko, and the majority of university students who are losing their hair, they have baldness because of  unhealthy living habits and stress level. Generally, it is believed that the greatest causes of baldness are heredity, stress, sleeping difficulties and nutritional disorders. However, according to many studies, 25 percent to 40 percent of all baldness patients have the symptom of losing their hair without any genetic factors. Also, as mentioned above, a person who inherits the baldness gene does not always become bald. Factors that are acquired later in life can stimulate the genes to become active. This is when the symptom of hair loss appears. Lee Moon-won, a director of Lee Moon-won Oriental Medicine Clinic, explained the reasons of increasing numbers of young baldness patients saying, "Nowadays, people in their 20s are inclined to go sleep late or for only a short time. Since hair grows while one is asleep, short sleeping hours lead to weakening hair growth. Also, university students tend to skip breakfast or other meals for losing weight, damaging their health and even leading themselves to develop nutritional disorder. Aside from the obvious stress university students are under, their unhealthy lifestyle also leads them to losing hair."
   When a person is under stress, his body generates heat, leading to an increase in the temperature of the skin that covers his face and scalp. Similar to trees becoming dry in a drought, the high temperature of the face and scalp makes hair become fine and fall out. As trees planted in soil with poor nutrients do not grow well, malnourished hair cannot grow well and easily falls out.
The progression of stress baldness is relatively more rapid than hereditary baldness. Besides, the empty pores, which are tiny holes in the skin, are exposed because hair does not grow back as the hair is lost. Meanwhile, unlike hereditary baldness, stress baldness can get better if physical and mental stress is released.

Precautions from Losing Hair
   In addition, sleeping hours influence losing hair. According to many studies if a person sleeps eight hours, he has about a 17 percent of smaller possibility of being bald than a person who sleeps less than five hours a day. Even a person who sleeps seven hours has twice as much possibility of losing his hair than a person who sleeps eight hours a day. So increasing the hours of sleep to be longer than eight hours and going to bed before midnight is important too. As well as the amount of sleeping hours, improving dietary health is also necessary. Lee said, ?oing on a vegetarian diet is a good prevention measure. To avoid baldness, eat vegetables instead of meat. Do not forget the fact that the nations with a meat-eating culture have a high rate of being bald. The stress baldness can be cured by the improvement of living habits. Also, a person should try to avoid things that bother him because too much stress can cause  baldness.
   However producing new hair on the head already losing hairs is not easy. In that case, people try to apply hair growth solutions. There are shampoos that are believed to help hair growth. Lee gives his opinion about that, saying, "Products that get approval as for quasi-drugs are effective. However the level of effect is not great. Patients just apply hair growth solution or use shampoos only in the belief that it will reduce the amount of hair falling out." Medically, even though a shampoo contains the ingredients that prevent patients from losing hair, there is little effect because the ingredients are seldom penetrating through the scalp.

Fight Against Baldness, and Become Winner!
   In general, baldness is considered to be the symbol of aging. However, the statistics mentioned above prove that baldness is not just a problem of older people. A great number of university students are worried about losing their hair, and are getting treatment for hair loss.
The main cause of baldness in the 20s is wrong living habits. Also hereditary baldness is caused by DNA that is inherited from the parents, but it can be prevented by reducing stress and improving dietary intake. Especially for university students, having good living habits is important. Since they are not losing their hair yet, preventing the baldness in advance is the best way. Once the symptoms of hereditary baldness start, it gets more difficult to cure and hair growth solutions and shampoos that helps a person to grow new hair are not effective.


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