Does race affect hair loss?
Although no two heads are ever the same, there are three different classifications of hair type. Asian hair, Afro-Caribbean hair and Caucasian hair. There will always be some regional differences of course but these three categories cover a wide spectrum and there are some similarities between other ethnic groups. Each of these groups have a clear identity to their hair, be it it’s shape, density or speed of growth but all hair is essentially made up of the same things, even though it may look different. Each strand of hair is made up of three layers, the cuticle, cortex, medulla and a protein called keretin which is the main component. The actual shape of the follicle is what makes the shape of the hair different. Asian hair grows from a round follicle, Afro-Caribbean hair grows from an oval one and Caucasian hair follicles vary. Once the hair leaves the root it is dead matter so the hair will keep it’s original shape. Asian hair is usually very straight, Afro-Caribbean hair is naturally very curly and Caucasian hair can be anywhere between these two.
The amount of hair differs from each racial group and it also grows at different rates. Caucasian hair grows at a rate of approximately 1.2 cm a month and has the highest density of the three classifications. Caucasian people possess between 85,000 and 145,000 hairs, whereas Asian hair grows the fastest at a rate of approximately 1.3 cm a month and usually has the least density despite having 80,000-100,000 hairs. Afro-Caribbean hair grows the slowest at a rate of 0.2 cm a month and this ethnic group have about 50,000-100,000 hairs on their heads.
Even though our hair differs so much between these three categories, hair loss and greying is mostly affected by our genes, environment and hormones but in general it is usually Caucasian men that suffer more from hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness) affects between 50 and 80% of Caucasian men, The number of Asian and Afro-Caribbean men who suffer is approximately half that. These differences in race suggest that a genetic predisposition is an important factor in how susceptible you are to baldness. Whatever our race though, our genetic makeup is the overriding factor of baldness and it can be inherited from both the male and female sides of your family. Research suggests that the androgen receptor, which is significantve in determining the probability for hair loss, is on the X chromosome, so is always inherited from the mother’s side for men. It is 50% likely that you will share the same X chromosome as your maternal grandfather. However, someone with a balding father also has a high chance of experiencing hair loss. Men whose fathers had experienced hair loss are 2.5 times more likely to experience hair loss themselves whether they inherited the same X chromosome or not.