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Insulin resistance, PCOS, and male pattern baldness

Discussion in 'Men's General Hair Loss Discussions' started by Broons85, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. Broons85

    Broons85 Member

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    I'm 25 and balding mildly. I'm a PhD student in biology, so I've read a fair amount of literature on anything I can connect to male pattern baldness. I've formed a theory that explains everything from anecdotal evidence to what I've seen first-hand in research labs. I believe the main cause of male pattern baldness to be insulin resistance. Insulin resistance causes down-regulation of SHBG, which normally binds free testosterone, making it inaccessible to 5?-reductase to be converted to DHT. Furthermore, insulin-resistance has been linked to PCOS, which has been linked via pedigree analysis to male pattern baldness. One of the labs I worked in found that a gene that increased insulin sensitivity also increased hair growth dramatically.

    So, I'm thinking that high-carb and high sugar diets are what cause male pattern baldness. Basically the culprit is likely anything that keeps insulin levels artificially high. This would mean that diet could play an enormously important role in fending off male pattern baldness. I can't explain why guy A goes bald and guy B doesn't even though they eat the same stuff. That's obviously due to genetic differences. But for the men who do have male pattern baldness, it is VERY likely that it is due to high levels of insulin lowering SHBG. I think it would be very hard to find an male pattern baldness man in America who doesn't eat a lot of grain, processed food, etc. Also, excessive insulin can also cause inflammation, which may explain the irritation that some men suffer from in the areas where they are balding.

    This is not to say that one needs to be generally insulin-resistant in order to suffer from male pattern baldness. Keep in mind that it is a local phenomenon. Thus, only the hair follicles need to become insulin resistant.

    This also explains the fact that the incidence of balding in countries in Asia went up after processed grains were introduced into their diets (after WWII).

    This is something I recently started to think and read about, so let me know what you think.
     
  2. Hoppi

    Hoppi Senior Member

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    haha good man! I was saying this too! These days I have been starting to believe there are more triggers though (anything that lifts T or E, or lifts inflammation), and I am very interested in this theory about estrogen/estradiol upregulating androgen receptors in some way (I felt this explained the male pattern baldness/prostate size link quite well) but I think it's good you are looking into this stuff and I'm sure I'll return for lots of great discussions in this thread later lol

    Hoppi :)
     
  3. 123000123

    123000123 Member

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    i agree for sure. we don't need to worry about the severely obese diabetic who has a full head of hair because he doesn't have the balding gene. we just need to look at people with the balding gene and i honestly think insulin resistance/low SHBG can not cause male pattern baldness, but definitely bring it on sooner/faster.

    only thing is i've had my insulin tested (twice) and both times it shows normal insulin sensitivity (7 mU/L where the range is <10 for normal, 10-14 for mild resistance and >14 for insulin resistance).

    however i have LOW SHBG, high free test, and reasonably high blood glucose.

    hmm...
     
  4. 123000123

    123000123 Member

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    the question is, how do you raise SHBG and how do you improve insulin resistance without losing weight/being depressed/having no energy?
     
  5. Brains Expel Hair

    Brains Expel Hair Established Member

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    I think it's a bit of a stretch to say that the main cause of all male pattern baldness cases is insulin resistance. From such a multifaceted condition it would seem impossible to develop one catch all cause.

    In case you haven't looked at it yet, I'm sure you'd be quite interested in the "other" genetic cause for male pattern baldness. The two genes with the strongest correlation to male pattern baldness are the AR gene (which encodes for the receptors that determine how sensitive you are) and 20p11.22 . The AR gene is on the X chromosome and the reason why the whole "look at your mother's brother's hair" advice exists, this one's pretty obviously related first and foremost to androgen levels/sensitivity.

    The 20p11.22 gene is... well it's not a gene. As far as anyone's been able to tell it's just some junk dna. Being a bio student though I'm sure you're aware of just how far away from junk that most junk dna happens to be. Seeing as how many junk dna sequences end up affecting expression of adjoining genes it's almost prophetic that this 20p11.22 stretch is right next to a gene that is responsible for pancreatic cell development. This pancreas gene is one of the strongest correlated genes on all of the human chromosomes to fasting glucose levels.

    The high-carb western diet sucks in so many ways and does so much harm to a variety of systems, it's disgusting that it's still the recommended way of eating. #s: if you're looking to improve insulin resistance (I'm assuming you correctly meant lessen insulin resistance), the most effective method is a two parter. Part 1: work out at least 40 minutes a day. Part 2: cut the carbs hard and fast, go high fat/low carb and just make sure you continue to get enough vitamins/minerals. Technically if you're eating a healthy diet of meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and restricted/no grains then you'll be on your way to increasing insulin sensitivity in a matter of weeks.
     
  6. 123000123

    123000123 Member

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    #s: if you're looking to improve insulin resistance (I'm assuming you correctly meant lessen insulin resistance), the most effective method is a two parter. Part 1: work out at least 40 minutes a day. Part 2: cut the carbs hard and fast, go high fat/low carb and just make sure you continue to get enough vitamins/minerals. Technically if you're eating a healthy diet of meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and restricted/no grains then you'll be on your way to increasing insulin sensitivity in a matter of weeks.

    yeah sorry, that's what i meant.

    sure, only thing is i'm a really skinny dude and have to eat huge amounts of food just to maintain my weight, let alone put it on. i can't really afford to lose any more weight. and that's the dilemma.

    also, what do you make of my already "low" insulin sensitivity? is that a sign that i don't need to worry about this? or is it one of those things where, although it's in the "normal" range, it could still be high for my age/weight/body structure/etc and hence still causing me problems?

    aren't there any drugs to take to raise shbg and/or lower insulin resistance? :)

    for some reason i recall a popular anti-diabetic drug was shown to have a positive effect on male pattern baldness but i can't remember it's name...
     
  7. billythekid

    billythekid Established Member

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    it's been established that insulin resistance is correlated with low T levels. and that stress/depression can contribute to type-2 diabetes

    after initially taking finasteride, combined with getting severely depressed for reasons other than hair loss, i had symptoms of diabetes. i lost lots of weight for no apparent reason. i did a GTT: glucose was normal, but insulin levels went up too high and stayed too high for longer than normal. (i think this means insulin resistance)

    i went on a low GI diet and the symptoms went away after some time. then several years later (no longer on finasteride), I started eating crap again. Everything seemed fine until I got severely depressed again, lost lots of weight, and the diabetic symptoms came back.

    my hair loss was accelerated when i had the symptoms.
     
  8. Brains Expel Hair

    Brains Expel Hair Established Member

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    What exact test was run for insulin sensitivity in you? Based on the units you provided it seems like you simply had your fasting insulin levels checked. While abnormally high fasting insulin levels can be used to show insulin resistance, normal levels of fasting insulin have absolutely no predictive value in determining lack of insulin resistance.

    Considering you have "normal" insulin levels but high glucose levels, this could be a clue to possible insulin resistance.

    Diets don't cause you to lose weight, they are simply guidelines for nourishment. If you're having to cram thousands of excess calories in just to maintain a low weight then it's obvious that your current diet is broken (most likely). You might lose some fat but gain the ability to grow muscle, fair trade?
     
  9. billythekid

    billythekid Established Member

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    glucose levels and serum insulin was tested starting with fasting values

    then i was given a sugar drink (50g or 75g, can't remember exactly, it was years ago)

    then i was tested every 0.5hrs for 3hrs (both glucose and insulin levels), i.e. they took blood from me 6 or 7 times!

    it was torture. the end report says that my insulin ranges were not normal but blood glucose was ok (for the first 1.5hrs or 2hrs i think).

    i didn't lose weight because of the diet, the weight loss occurred BEFORE going on the diet.
     
  10. Hoppi

    Hoppi Senior Member

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    What is great is that Justin's regimen (I dunno how many people remember Justin, I think that dude is great :) ) is based on a good diet, exercise, less stress, and pomegranate juice. It seems to be bringing him a fair degree of success.

    All these things lower E, balance T, increase/optimize SHBG, decrease insulin, decrease cortisol, etc etc, which makes for a far more... preferable male hormone balance. My current attitude to my hair and health is very similar to Justin's, as I have faith that he (and indeed, many of you) are correct.

    I do believe that individuals of course vary in their susceptibility to hair loss. I also believe that it is not always insulin, or always high T, or low SHBG, or particularly sensitive follicles. But I mostly still believe at the moment that the trick is to find your own trigger (usually one of the ones I just mentioned) and approach it appropriately. I fully intend to simply stimulate my hair (Spectral RS, Mega-Tek, etc), and give it a hand with my T-Gel and Nizoral, and hopefully undo the health wobbles that caused my male pattern hair loss in the first place. I am not SURE if this approach will work, but I am easily confident enough to make it worthwhile, and hell I need to improve my health anyway at the moment!! :)
     
  11. captain_que

    captain_que Established Member

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    Brains Expel Hair, do you know of a good website to use as a "guide" to get gluten free?
     
  12. Brains Expel Hair

    Brains Expel Hair Established Member

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    http://www.celiac.com
    It's an amazingly informative sight with daily updates on the latest in all things gluten-free along with a very helpful forum.
     
  13. Hoppi

    Hoppi Senior Member

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    Some fantastic responses here by the way! Personally I think the later in life you got male pattern baldness, and the more other health concerns accompanied it, the better placed you are to deal with it with an approach like this, as the fact there is more to correct implies to me that your follicles could take more before they started to react. Those who start losing hair in their teens with no obvious trigger possibly have low shbg / high T, but probably also may just have particularly sensitive follicles ._.
     
  14. 123000123

    123000123 Member

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    Brains Expel Hair,

    Regarding reducing insulin resistance, what are your thoughts on wholegrains and potatoes?

    Could the following diet work, for instance:


    eggs, 2 x slice wholegrain bread

    protein shake

    meat/seafood, veges/salad, 1 cup brown rice

    protein shake

    meat/seafood, veges/salad, 1 x medium-sized potato


    snack on nuts and vertain fruits throughout

    multivitamin + fish oil

    pasta substituted for rice every now and then, no more than 2 x a week

    Along with cardio every day? Would this be enough to improve blood sugar and insulin? Or in your opinion do you need to completely cut out all grains?

    Also, regarding alcohol, are spirits okay? (2x a week, either straight or with sugar-free soda)

    Not talking about going completely gluten-free here, just talking about reducing insulin resistance.

    Many thanks in advance
     
  15. Brains Expel Hair

    Brains Expel Hair Established Member

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    Depends, most whole grain items are pretty much worthless as they're made from whole grain flour which during the milling process separates all of the carbs from the insoluble fiber leading to something like say a slice of whole grain bread having an almost identical glycemic load as a slice of white bread.

    Worrying about whole grain vs processed grain (brown vs white rice) is only really important if those grains are your major source of nutritional intake. If you eat more vegetables than grains and you're avoiding everything "low-fat", it really doesn't matter as the vegetables will be supplying you with your adequate levels of vitamins and nutrients and the fats from your meat consumption will supplement the essential fats you miss out on from the processing.

    The best bet for reducing any increase in insulin resistance is to make sure you're consuming fats whenever you're eating those heavy carbs. Smear the bread with plenty of butter, fry the brown rice in some canola/coconut oil, cover the potato with sour cream. These fats slow down the absorption of the carbs leading to less of an upfront stress on your liver.

    As for the alcohol. I know this probably isn't what you're expecting to hear but... DRINK UP! Alcohol consumption is actually related to insulin sensitivity. The more alcohol you consume, the lower your insulin resistance is. This is possibly a part of the reason why even heavy drinkers have a higher life expectancy than abstainers. You probably want to limit the amount of super sugary drink though but really, if you're drinking wine coolers... I don't know if I can help you anymore...
     
  16. 123000123

    123000123 Member

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    Wow, like you said, a few unexpected facts in that post.

    Reading through that made me realise how little I know about all this. I honestly thought it was about avoiding all sugars, simple carbs and sat. fats. And load up on beers you say? Looks like I'm going to have to reassess my whole diet!

    Perhaps if you could be bothered you might mention some of the foods you eat or a short sample of your diet?

    Appreciate your help, thanks.
     
  17. Hoppi

    Hoppi Senior Member

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    I would advise caution with alcohol though as I believe it increases estrogen.. doesn't it Brains?

    I thought that's why guys who drink too much beer end up bald and tubby with thin arms lol, because the beer increases estradiol, leading to less testosterone and more DHT *waits to get attacked* lol

    I think it's true though...


    (btw sorry for throwing this stuff up even though it creates fights, i REALLY don't mean to make fights I just want to know if Brains agrees with this view that I have on why beer seems to result in that outcome (beer bellies, lack of muscle mass, balding))

    Cheers :)
     
  18. 123000123

    123000123 Member

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    Hoppi,

    It certainly does increase estrogen (although this would in theory be good for our hair), as well as numerous other negative health effects like increasing inflammation. I don't think Brains was really recommending we go out and get plastered every night, just that alcohol can in fact be good for insulin sensitivity, which is the one question I asked him about.
     
  19. Brains Expel Hair

    Brains Expel Hair Established Member

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    Way to crash the party! hehe, Yeah alcohol does increase estradiol levels in men even in just one nights worth of drinking. This increase is normally cleared and adjusted but chronic consumption can cause hypoandrogenism. This in turn can cause a redistribution of your fats, decrease in body hair and lower sperm potency. I personally don't hold an opinion on the estrogen dominance = hair loss debate, I haven't read anywhere near enough on the subject to form one. I do agree however for health reasons though that it is not a good thing.

    It is certainly a double edged sword though, while you may be worried about estrogen dominance from alcohol consumption, studies have shown that drinking alcohol increases your life expectancy and decreases insulin resistance. I guess it's up to each person to decide how they treat that. Additionally high consumption of cruciferous vegetables should in part counteract the increased estradiol levels, and those are things you should be eating lots of anyways.

    Don't worry about saturated fats. The "damaging" effects of fat consumption only occur in the presence of high carb consumption. Cut the carbs, cut the problem. Additionally it's been shown repeatedly that there is in fact no causal relationship between saturated fats and heart disease same goes with dietary cholesterol. Whenever you hear someone talking about the dangers of those two compound classes they are working off of really old and outdated/disproved studies.

    My diet is going to be somewhat abnormal due to my gluten intolerance, basically it's just a gluten-free, low carb diet. I take daily: fish oil, probiotics and a multivitamin, these are all necessary in the first year of a recovering celiac. I eat plenty of: eggs, chicken breast, pork (not bacon unfortunately), mushrooms, onions, garlic, dark leafy greens, herbs, spices, peppers, seasonal vegetables, tomatoes, dark chocolate, bananas, coconut oil, canola oil, olive oil. When I eat beef I normally buy grass fed beef. Hell if you can get all of your meat eating a natural diet (non-grain) great, but since beef is normally the fattiest out of them all I personally stress this one as the fat profile is what is mostly affected by their diet. Overall it's kind of like a paleo-diet except that I do eat yogurt and real sour cream (ingredients label should never have more than just: cream, cultures) I eat rice a couple of times a month (white), along with quinoa. The most important thing in any diet is to just eat more vegetables. More, that's all that matters.
     
  20. Broons85

    Broons85 Member

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    I think the main culprit in hair loss is insulin resistance in the hair follicles on your head. You plasma insulin tests may show you to be normal, but that doesn't necessarily mean that your hair follicles aren't insulin resistant. Also, excessive insulin has been shown to cause an increase in free testosterone and a decrease in SHBG, leaving testosterone to be bound by DHT. More importantly, if the cells are insulin resistant then they can't grow. Every cell needs insulin to divide. If your hair follicles aren't getting it then they'll stop growing. Then, when you get older, there won't be as many genetic "survival" cues floating around, and insulin is one of those survival cues. So, they'll likely die, leaving you permanently bald. This explains the link between insulin resistance and male pattern baldness along with other diseases. Also, it has been shown that diazoxide, a drug that treats insulin resistance, had a side effect of hair growth, and was subsequently used in tests on male pattern baldness subjects (Google it). Most men in the study experienced regrowth. I would bet that those who didn't probably had a stronger genetic predisposition to baldness (by that i mean a stronger predisposition to insulin resistance in the hair follicles), and I presume that they were all eating grain rich diets. Imagine using this drug with a low carb diet!

    So, if you're looking for the cure for male pattern baldness, I'm willing to bet that a low-carb diet with low glycemic index foods would stop hair loss, and if you're young and lucky enough, reverse it. If the hair follicles aren't dead then they'll start growing again once they become insulin sensitive again. So ditch the bagel in the morning, sandwich for lunch, and pasta for dinner (and also desserts). You may even experience worsened hair loss at first while the follicles become resensitized to insulin (it's like they're addicted to it). But then it should get better fast. It's just a theory, but I've done a lot of reading and it makes a lot of sense (an not just for male pattern baldness). I know I'll try it.
     

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