Several years ago I reported that the present treatment for male-pattern baldness is not very effective, that male pattern baldness may be caused by insulin resistance, and that a diet high in sugar and flour may cause irreversible hair loss.

The old theory was that the male hormone, testosterone, is converted to another hormone called dihydrotestosterone, that causes hair to grow darker and longer on the bodies, faces and sides of the head of men. Dihydrotestosterone also causes male pattern baldness by making hair on the top of the head thinner, lighter and shorter so you can’t see it. Scientists developed a drug called Proscar to shrink enlarged prostates by blocking the formation of dihydrotestosterone. Entrepreneurs sell the same drug as Propecia and charge five times as much to help hair grow on bald men, but it is not very effective.

A study in the journal Lancet (September 30, 2000, p1165) showed that male pattern baldness may well be caused by insulin resistance. Male pattern baldness means loss of hair on the top and front of the head, but not the sides. Insulin resistance means that a person cannot respond well to insulin causing both men and women to have very high blood levels of insulin. When you eat, your blood sugar level rises.. To keep blood sugar levels from rising too high, your pancreas releases insulin which drives sugar from the blood into your cells. Some people respond poorly to insulin so their blood sugar levels rise too high and then they produce way too much insulin that causes men and women to lose hair.

Men who are at high risk for male-pattern baldness have the same characteristics as those who are likely to develop diabetes. They store fat primarily in their bellies, rather than their hips, have high blood triglyceride levels, have low blood levels of the good HDL cholesterol that prevents heart attacks, have a family history of diabetes , and are at high risk for developing diabetes and for suffering a heart attack.

Another study from Johns Hopkins showed that men who lose their hair early have high blood levels of insulin like growth factor-1, a hormone that the body produces in response to high blood sugar levels. Women who have a condition called polycystic ovary syndrome suffer from male-pattern baldness, have high blood insulin levels and can often be cured by taking medication to lower blood sugar levels and restricting foods and drinks that raise blood sugar the most, such as those with added sugar, bakery products, pastas and fruit juices. Instead, eat plenty of vegetables, whole grains, beans, seeds and nuts.

Don’t be taken in by ads claiming that male pattern baldness is caused by blocked pores and that you can cure male pattern baldness by applying a special shampoo that opens the pores so that hair can break through the skin and reach the surface. Bald men have almost the same number of hairs on their heads as those who have full heads of hair. However, the hair of bald men is so thin, light and short that you can see it only when you look very closely. Therefore, blocked pores do not cause baldness and unblocking pores to grow hair is nonsense. Promoters demonstrate these product by measuring dry hair, applying the shampoo and then measuring the hair again, showing you that it has grown. Actually, any wet hair can be stretched and will measure longer than dry hair. If these products worked, you would not see any bald men walking around. Don’t waste your money.

Checked 5/28/23