What makes some men lose their hair and others not? A new study suggests it’s not as simple as some once thought.

A new study of 52,000 men has identified genes that could help predict if you will go bald.

Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss in men, and this is the largest genetic study of hair loss to date.

This interview comes courtesy of Radio New Zealand.

Riccardo Marioni, from the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine, is the study’s principal investigator. He says previously the strongest link between genes and baldness pointed to the X chromosomes that men inherit from their mothers.

But the new study, Marioni says, shows there are actually many genes linked to hair loss that come from other chromosomes. In fact, nearly 300 independent genetic areas are associated with baldness.

“It is not just down to the genes you get from your mum,” he explains. “Your dad contributes as well.”

The study showed that, of those with a genetic risk in the top 10 percent, around six out of 10 reported moderate to severe hair loss. However, it was still difficult to predict who would go bald. “So, for example, you could have an extremely high genetic risk score for baldness but just get lucky and end up with a full head of hair for your entire life.

“Likewise at the other end of the spectrum you could have a very low genetic risk for baldness but just be unlucky and end up with severe hair loss.”

Despite the new insights, researchers still don’t fully understand the mechanism that causes baldness – and there is certainly a way to go before a “cure” is found.

This content is published under licence and in partnership with Radio New Zealand, one of the world’s foremost public broadcasters. To learn more go to

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