Should the Term “Androgenic Alopecia” Be Used? (Research History)

About 60 years ago Hamilton made an important observation when he noticed that castrated men did not have AGA. He concluded that hair growth on the scalp was androgen-dependent.

Despite androgens causing hair loss in many men, androgens are actually crucial as they are responsible for the development of puberty; they also aid in, if not cause, male maturation, growth of muscles and the appearance of other sexual characteristics in young humans. [25]

Androgens, such as testosterone (T) and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), have been identified by researchers to be the main regulators of hair growth. Androgens contribute to the changing of vellus (tiny, un-pigmented) hairs into terminal (thicker) hair follicles. [18]

Paradoxically, androgens are also are often thought of as the main culprit behind male pattern baldness.

Androgens in the scalp of adults with androgen-dependent hair follicles seem to have two undesirable effects. The first being that they shorten the anagen phase (long growth phase). [6]

A study published in November 2002 further explained that the follicles experience a “transformation from long growth (anagen) and short rest (telogen) cycles, to long rest and short growth cycles.”  [3]

The second effect always accompanies the first and maybe the manifestation of it. This effect is manifested as the gradual changing of (thick) terminal hair follicles to (thinner) vellus hair (due to the reduction of the cellular hair matrix volume). This change in thickness has been referred to as a “progressive miniaturisation of the follicle.”[3] [5] [18] [23]

In summary, androgens shorten the long growth cycle (anagen phase) and cause follicles to enter into the resting cycle (telogen phase) faster and remain in that phase longer; this results in finer and finer hair. This process  is what we’ve identified as, or termed, AGA.

The currently-accepted model by most mainstream physicians (as of December 2010) considers regulation of hair production to be highly effected by androgens. [18] In fact, AGA today is considered a dihydrotestosterone-dependent (DHT-dependent) condition by these individuals causing a gradual miniaturization of sensitive hair follicles leading to AGA pattern baldness (i.e. MPB). [10] [11] [24].

Despite the above, I believe hair loss of all types is caused by many factors, androgens being only one factor. I prefer to use the terms “male pattern baldness” MPB or alopecia rather than Androgenic Alopecia (AGA) since the term androgenic is derived from the word “androgen” and by virtue of using it one implies the cause of hair loss is androgen dependent, which is not wholly accurate.

‘Andro’ stands for male, ‘androgen’ stands for male hormones.  I have seen more than one study referring to women’s hair loss as androgenic alopecia!  I have heard of women who where told they had “male pattern baldness” by their doctors (because her doctor viewed it is a male-hormone dependent condition), how can a female have a female condition..

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The label we have given to the different types of hair loss in different genders (i.e. AGA) is insensitive and misleading.

The choice of words used to describe conditions (symptoms) such as hair loss shows how gridlocked some researchers can be.

Besides referring to female hair loss as Androgenic Alopecia (AGA), the researchers have also referred to vertex hair loss in children of both sexes as AGA!

When they use the term “androgenetic alopecia” (AGA) it suggests that they had it all figured out, but hair loss is “not” something that mainstream physicians  nor scientific researchers have figured out yet. I wont speculate to why that is the case but it likely has to do with their mindset and how they do not view a human body in a holistic way and then there’s the money and business influences.

Luckily, I am not bound by these restrains, and on my website I prefer to use simple terms as alopecia or baldness without saying male, or female, or androgenic. Often, labels we place on things define them.

If a researcher knows male baldness to be ONLY caused by androgens they may never venture to study other contributing factors to hair loss, they also may never revisit the original research to prove/disprove it since it is a waste of their time to research something that everyone agrees on. This has been the case, a lot of research was put into androgens and androgen blocking drugs were developed. But even these drugs fail  to reverse hair loss, not to mention they all have side effects.

If hair loss was wholly androgen dependent then cases when people reversed their hair loss remain unexplained (termed spontaneous remissions perhaps), also the drastic rise in hair loss at earlier ages in both sexes will go into the bin of unexplained mysteries for researches to “attack”.

I have seen it over and over, physicians doing a poor job, doing some good with a patient but not going all the way to finding cause of dysfunction (even citing insurance not covering the needed tests as their excuse) and falling back on their trusty drugs. These physicians are corporate employees as far as I’m concerned, not healers. Insurance companies tell your doctor how to “diagnose” you with a label and what “drugs” to give you, they do nothing to really “heal” you. You see, doctors nowadays are in the business of sickness not healing and insurance companies are in the business of money making not health care.

As you read more on this website you will learn about a myriad of conditions, metabolic, hormonal, nutritional and others that all contribute to, accelerate or initiate so called male pattern baldness (AGA).

Hair loss is a largely modern civilized symptom. The answer is complex and different for each person. There is no one solution that a corporation could patent that they’d be encouraged to pay researchers to investigate. Modern mainstream medicine has failed everyone with hair loss.

Written Dec 28 – Last Edited Dec 30, 2010

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One Response to “Should the Term “Androgenic Alopecia” Be Used? (Research History)”

  1. Is Self Diagnosis of MPB Possible? | World Hair Research Says:

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