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Can soya help with hair loss?

Jerome Burne
Times of London 04-14-2004

CHEMICALS FOUND IN SOYA BEANS MAY BE THE ROOT OF A REMEDY FOR BALDNESS. JEROME BURNE REPORTS

EUNUCHS do not go bald, observed Hippocrates 2,500 years ago, and while few have gone down the castration route to avoid hair loss, they have tried almost everything else. Queen Victoria was so worried about her thinning locks that she took a concoction made from silver birch sap. However, there is now a new remedy that looks more promising.
Equol is a form of oestrogen that is made when bacteria in the gut breaks down oestrogen-mimicking chemicals, known as "isoflavones", chemicals found naturally in soya beans and some other plants. The results of a study published last month in Biology of Reproduction indicated that equol effectively blocks a particularly potent form of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), linked with both male pattern baldness and an increased risk of prostate cancer.
DHT can be kept in check with Propecia (finasteride), which targets the enzyme that turns testosterone into DHT, and stops hair loss in about 80 per cent of cases and stimulates new growth in 30 per cent. However, benefits are lost when you stop taking the medication, and side-effects can include temporary impotence.
Equol, when injected into mice, did not stop DHT being made, but put it in "handcuffs", stopping it from attaching to the male hormone receptors in the prostate and hair follicles. It is a kinder solution than castration.
"Directly binding and inactivating DHT without influencing testosterone gives equol the ability to reduce many harmful effects of androgens without affecting the beneficial ones," says Professor Robert Handa, an endocrinologist at Colorado State College of Veterinary Medicine, the senior author of the latest study.
So could boosting equol intake via diet help? Should baldies binge on soya and tofu burgers? Certainly far fewer Japanese men go bald or develop prostate cancer and they eat ten times more soya than we do. But there is a catch -can your body make equol?
According to a paper published last December in Ob/Gyn Clinical Alert, only about 30 per cent of the population produces it in their guts (another characteristic distinguishing us from other mammals, all of which churn out equol effortlessly - hair loss is an almost exclusively human affliction). At first sight, hair loss appears a depressingly localised affliction. With an estimated five million hairs on our bodies, most incredibly fine, why should the 100,000 or so thickest on the top of the head go into retreat as we age?
In fact research shows that the reason receding hair is so difficult to treat is because it is intimately connected not just with testosterone and its action on the prostate, but also with foetal development.
Last year it was reported that scientists were working on molecules to target a gene called Sonic Hedgehog which controls such vital steps in the foetus's development as making sure that the baby has two eyes, that the brain forms two hemispheres, and that hair follicles are created. This gene is also active in adults, which is why in October a company patented a drug that turns on the Hedgehog signalling pathway to kick-start hair growth.
Meanwhile, researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Rockefeller University in New York are studying two other genes, "wht" and "noggin", which are involved in altering stem cells in the skin so that instead of producing more skin, they become hair follicles. But the spectre of cancer looms over such approaches; wht and noggin have both been implicated in the changes involved in colon and breast tumours.
Meanwhile, you could try saw palmetto berries (available in health-food shops) which a controlled trial two years ago found can inhibit DHT: the subjects were given 400mg a day in the form of two capsules. Silver birch sap probably is not advisable, as herbalists today use it for rheumatism and bladder problems.

Hair loss calls for an investigation

Hair loss calls for an investigation
Dr. Ann Huntington The Telegram

Memo: This column has been reviewed prior to publication by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association, 245 Commercial St. Milton, Ontario. L9T 2J3. Pet question? Write Dr. Huntington care of this paper. Or e- mail your questions to: Vetline@aol.com.
DEAR DR. HUNTINGTON: I have an 8-1/2-year-old Samoyed who has lost a substantial amount of hair from his ears, cheeks and forehead. With the onset of winter I expected there would be regrowth, but it is still very thin. This has happened before and cultures have been done by my veterinarian, but they were negative. I'm assuming the culture was for mange. He does not scratch the areas. It doesn't seem to bother him and he seems healthy otherwise, except for eating junk such as cigarette butts and any other bits he can find on his walk. He also pulls out small chunks of grass to eat the soil underneath.
A big white Samoyed doesn't look great with hair loss on his face and ears. The skin on his face is mottled black where the skin is pink elsewhere on his body. I would appreciate any suggestions. He has eaten dry dog food all his
life with very few snacks, except those that he picks up along the street. -- William R., via the Internet.
Dear William: You don't describe a pretty picture, which is sad since a Samoyed is generally such a striking dog. I think it is time to get to the bottom of this problem once and for all. Speak to your veterinarian about delving further into the problem. He may want you to return for further testing, or he may recommend you consult with a veterinary dermatologist.
Whichever the case, I feel that it is time to be sure that aggressive steps be taken to pin down the diagnosis. Among the steps perhaps needed would be skin scrapings for mites, cultures for bacteria or fungi, blood tests, biopsy of the affected region, and/ or therapeutic trials. Once the cause of the hair loss and skin discoloration is correctly identified, then appropriate treatment can be instituted. Let's hope that in a few months he is back to his handsome old self.
Trouble swallowing
DEAR DR. HUNTINGTON: I am writing to you concerning my nine-year- old boxer who evidently has developed what the vet calls megaesophagus (X-rays were taken). I have never heard of this disorder before and am not quite sure what I should be doing to help make meal times less stressful for him. He has trouble swallowing his food and I have begun feeding him small amounts at a time of the canned variety instead of the dry.
The vet also advised that my dog should be fed with his head elevated and, so I put his bowl on the third step on the stairway. We have also stopped giving him any kind of treats such as dog biscuits because he chokes and they get stuck in his throat.
Is this something that will continue to get worse? Is there any treatment for this disorder? Is there anything more that you can suggest I do to help him at meal time? -- Marilyn F., Pierrefonds, Que.
Dear Marilyn: Megaesophagus is a condition in which the esophagus (the tube food travels down between the throat and the stomach) becomes dilated and flabby, resulting in difficult swallowing, regurgitation, and frequently, pneumonia from inhaled food particles. It can be inherited and appear in puppies, or develop in adulthood, usually in late middle age.
While not always present, other diseases sometimes associated with megaesophagus include myasthenia gravis, laryngoparalysis, peripheral neuropathies, hypothyroidism or hypoadrenocorticism. If your veterinarian has not checked for these, it would be wise to investigate them now.
There is no cure for adult onset megaesophagus, but careful feeding protocols can help. The major approach is to feed a slurry, textured food in an elevated position so that gravity helps the food get down into the stomach. One good way to accomplish this is to put the food on the seat of a step-stool, causing the dog to eat with his forepaws on the step, hind paws on the ground. Two or three smaller meals a day are necessary. Experiment a little with the texture of the food. Some dogs do best with a very liquid diet, others with something thicker. Stick to what works best for your boxer.
Finally, watch for signs of lethargy, coughing, or difficult breathing.
This condition predisposes dogs to pneumonia, and you should be prepared to watch for those symptoms. Most dogs with megaesophagus need to have antibiotic treatments periodically when this occurs.
Don't get discouraged. It sounds like you're on the right track and I've had patients with this problem that have done well for several years.
(Copyright THE TELEGRAM (ST. JOHN'S) 1999)

Business Week, Nov 10, 2003 i3857 p86

SLOWING HAIR LOSS -- WITH ELECTRICITY

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2003 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

Edited by Adam Aston; By John Carey

DECADES AGO, scientists learned that mild pulses of electricity can induce bone cells to grow more bone. So if a little zap can help heal fractures, might it also prod hair follicles to keep making hair? The outlook is promising -- particularly for cancer patients likely to lose hair during chemotherapy.

Since 1987, Vancouver (B.C.)-based Current Technology has been working on a device that sends electrical pulses through hair follicles. It's modestly effective at boosting hair growth -- about the same as topical drugs such as Minoxidil. But doctors in New Zealand got more striking results when they used CTC's device on women undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. Twelve of 13 women didn't experience the usual hair loss from the cancer drugs, making it easier for them to cope with the other side effects of chemotherapy, reports lead investigator Dr. Timothy Meakin.

Fortune, Jan 7, 2002 v145 i1 p53

Limiting Fallout: Hair loss.

(new baldness prevention research in being conducted, but Propecia and Rogaine may provide the best solutions until something new is developed)
Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2002 Time, Inc.

Alex Taylor III Reporter Associates Paola Hjelt, Lisa Munoz

Roughly 25% of men experience some hair loss by the time they reach 25, and the percentage goes up about ten points a decade. A third or more of women will also have thinning hair by middle age. The good news: A small army of researchers is testing revolutionary baldness-battling treatments that should be ready a few years from now. Until then, existing prescription drugs do a decent job of helping to preserve the strands you've got.

Assuming you find hair transplants as distasteful as we do, the best bet is Rogaine (minoxidil), Propecia (finasteride), or both. If you rub Rogaine (up to $45 a month) into the scalp twice a day, you have a 59% chance of stimulating some new growth after four months--but you've got to keep using the stuff to maintain the effects. Propecia (up to $58 a month), which comes in pill form, has been shown to stop hair loss in 83% of male patients tested between ages 18 and 41. It too must be taken forever, and it can't be taken by women of childbearing age because it causes birth defects.

Baldness is usually triggered by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors, so researchers are attacking on both fronts. Glaxo-SmithKline is testing a drug called Dutasteride that can block nearly 100% of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone byproduct that activates hair-loss genes. The drug could hit the market in two to five years. There's also stem-cell therapy, in which doctors harvest stem cells from healthy hair follicles, multiply them in a test tube, and inject them into the skin. Human testing is just getting underway. The ideal treatment would be to identify the gene-driven process that causes baldness and then neutralize it with a topical lotion or implant hair-friendly genes. If that works, the old joke--if you want to save your hair, get a box--may finally be obsolete.

 

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