Genes – Cause for Baldness in Women

Researchers have discovered a gene variant apparently responsible for causing baldness in females.

Scientists at St. Vincent’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne discovered the gene variant following studies carried out on the DNA of around 500 women suffering from hair loss. The discovery was reported in The Age recently. The study was carried out amongst women all aged between 18 and 65 who had only around 50% of their hair on their scalp.

Tests carried out on DNA of a control group of women who did not suffer from hair loss indicated the presence of a variant called ESR2 or Oestrogen Receptor Beta, which is a gene that made hair follicles even more sensitive towards the oestrogen levels in the body.
The link between ESR2 and hair loss was extremely strong in women aged over 40 years. Women who did not suffer from baldness showed the same gene, but with a different variant – which was not affected much by levels of oestrogen.

The head of this particular research, and also St Vincent’s Professor of Dermatology – Rod Sinclair stated that thickening of hair is noticed amongst women especially during pregnancy, whereas loss of hair is experienced once the baby is delivered and also during the period of breastfeeding. During these periods in their lives, the level of oestrogen is fairly low, causing hair loss. The same applies for menopause as well.
He also spoke of the practise of hormone replacement therapy taken to combat hair loss. Professor Sinclair stated that contrary to the popular belief that it would aid hair re-growth, he said hormone replacement therapy does just the opposite.

The findings of the study are to be presented in Cairns next month at the World Congress for Hair Research.