March 4, 2008, - 1:03 pm
As I’ve remarked on this site so many times, one of the great things about America is the entrepreneurial spirit of so many brilliant fellow citizens. As in Israel, Americans invent so many new devices to make our life simpler and to give us information we’d never dream of obtaining for future health decisions.
You don’t see any of this in the Islamic world. The only thing they invent are new methods of barbarism. In that, their high tech capacity is limitless, but that’s it.
The latest invention is a DNA test for younger men to determine if they’re going to go bald. I can see why Muslims would never invent this, since Greater Hirsutia doesn’t really have a need. And who needs a test about whether their mustache will grow to Saddam-mustachioed. splendor?
The DNA test isn’t too expensive, though experts disagree on its reliability in predicting whether men under 40 will hold onto their coiffures or go Kojak.
My question is, what do you do with the info if you’re a guy who learns you’re very likely to go bald? I suppose it means you approach the debate of “nature v. hair implants” early:
Young men who are worried about losing their hair can now take a DNA test that will determine their odds of going bald before 40.
HairDX, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that created the test, says the test searches for a genetic variant that 95% of all bald men share. Men who test positive for the genetic variant are at 60% risk of going bald before 40. The test also identifies whether a man has a less-common variant that means an 85% chance of not going bald by that age.
For $149, men can swab the inside of their cheek and send off the DNA sample to the company, which sends back results three to four weeks later that give all the hairy details about what is in store for their scalp. The test, released in January, is available on the company website and some doctors’ offices.
Decrying 99.9% of hair-loss products on the market as “scams,” company president Andy Goren says the DNA test provides a solid basis for when and how to seek treatment. . . .
Angela Christiano, an associate professor of genetics and development at Columbia University who is skeptical of the test’s reliability, says it is hard to pinpoint the cause of baldness because very few genes connected to hair loss have been identified.
Although HairDX analyzes one genetic variant for hair loss, other still-unknown variants play a vital role in determining baldness, she says.
“Picking one gene is a little arbitrary,” Christiano says. “There’s really nothing else you can look at, though. If we don’t know what the other 10 genes are, it’s hard to know what the contribution of this gene is.”
Spencer Kobren, founder of the American Hair Loss Association, acknowledges that the test isn’t perfect but still gave it the group’s endorsement.
“To me and other physicians, we really think for the first time there may be a good indicator of hair loss, and why not utilize it?” he says.
Kobren says men usually wait until they see signs of balding before taking any action, but knowing they are genetically destined to lose their hair might give them the jump-start they need to keep their locks.
Yet another sign of America’s follicularly obsessed times, but also its ingenuity and ceaseless creative inventions.
And, then, there is always the option of a hair transplant.
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