Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the Genetics of Male Pattern Baldness

I was watching the Royal Wedding 2018 in all its glory, marveling over Meghan Markle’s dress, the cute little boys and girls carrying her train, and the splendor of St. George’s Chapel. Suddenly I sat up with a jolt. The camera had zoomed in on Prince Harry bending over the bride, and I saw – gaaah! – a growing bald spot on the back of his head. Not Harry, I wanted to yell! He was supposed to be the prince with hair! Is Prince Harry going bald too?

The Myth of the X-Chromosome

For some reason, when it comes to hair loss we are eager to find someone to blame. Perhaps not surprisingly, the idea that hair loss is passed down to a son via the X-chromosome of his mother has become quite entrenched. Of all the reasons why we might be going bald, we somehow find the one blaming our mother the most compelling. But is this true?

Today’s nonstop news coverage of the Royal Wedding gave me ample time to conduct a little bit of research around signs of hair loss among members of the royal family.

Baldness in the Royal Family

There was Prince William of course, Harry’s older brother and best man, who has shown signs of premature balding for years. At age 35, his hair loss is quite advanced (somewhere between Class 5 and Class 6 if you follow the official classification system – find out here why we advise you not to worry about such classifications too much). Then there was Prince Charles, heir to the throne – yikes, how old he looks all of a sudden! But surprisingly, his hair loss is less advanced than that of his first-born. If you Google images of him in the 1980s when he would have been in his 30s, you will find that he had a full head of thick hair. The same is true for Prince Philipp. At age 96 he has little hair left, but until well into middle age his main issue seemed to be a receding hairline at the corners, leaving his crown intact.

Does that mean the male pattern baldness among the British royals is indeed passed down through the female side, meaning Princess Diana and her parents? Another quick Google search is inconclusive. Her father seems to also have had a rather receding hairline. Her brother Charles Spencer, who is still very much alive and attended the wedding (at the back of the Chapel behind the Clooney’s, so The Sun accusingly reveals), has a full head of silver-gray hair.

The Genetics of Hair Loss

The point is, hair loss can indeed be blamed on genetics to a large extent. It is believed that up to 80% of balding has its roots – no pun intended – in genetics. A 2008 study revealed that for men afflicted with male pattern baldness, a small area on Chromosome 20 is associated with their hair loss. Men with that particular genetic variant are seven times more likely to experience premature hair loss than those who don’t carry it. We don’t yet know why, but we do know that it’s there.

To be sure, other factors outside of genetics play a role too. Diet, exercise, stress levels, your general health, and perhaps even toxins we are exposed to, can all have an effect on your rate of hair loss. But genetics is indeed the biggest predictor of premature baldness. Just don’t blame it on your maternal grandfather.

If you are among the 40% of men who experience hair loss by the age of 35 and want to blame somebody for it, you have to look on both sides of the aisle. If you want to find out if premature balding is in the cards for you, take a look at male relatives on both your mother’s and father’s side of the family.

You CAN Reverse Hair Loss

Beyond making healthy eating and exercise a part of your daily routine, you always have the option of reversing your hair loss with hair transplant surgery. FUE hair transplants such as NeoGraft are particularly easy because of their short recovery time and their natural look. You can’t beat re-growing your own hair to give you the full coverage you last enjoyed in your 20s!

We doubt that we can entice Harry or William to stop by for a hair transplant consultation at the Nashville Hair Doctor – even though we offer a generous travel package to out of town patients – but we invite YOU to give us a try. Simply snap a few pictures, upload them using our Online Quote form, and we will get back to you with a personalized hair restoration quote.

In the meantime, here is to the happy couple and the modern fairytale of their wedding!

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