Baldness and My Head Shave

There is one thing about baldness – it’s neat.

-Don Herold

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s most anxious of us all?

Probably, yours truly!

Yes, tomorrow night I will be bald. As I said in my last column, I am having my head shaved at Kin Coulee Park as a fund raising event for the Canadian Cancer Society. It will happen at 8 p.m.

This will be in conjunction with Relay for Life – a celebration of survival, a tribute to the lives of loved ones and a night of fun, friendship and fundraising to beat cancer.

If you have not yet put in your pledge to see me go bald then you can still do so by phoning in your donation to my office (527-0099), or Hair Palace (527-4433) or the Canadian Cancer Society (528-2125).

Now, what do you think, bald is beautiful, balderdash or just neat?

Hair has many useful functions. It protects our skin from many external elements. In our society, it has a significant psychosocial importance. But hair loss is a common problem. And it can be a distressing symptom of illness or treatment.

We are born with approximately 100,000 hair follicles on the scalp. They are predetermined to grow long, thick hair. Rest of the body has other hair follicles which are predetermined to grow short, fine, and less pigmented hair.

An article in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) says that the cycles of active hair growth and rest are regulated by complex messages which are not well understood.

What causes hair loss?

There is hereditary thinning of the hair induced by androgens in genetically susceptible men and women. Thinning of the hair begins between the ages of 12 and 40 years in both sexes, and approximately half the population expresses this trait to some degree before the age of 50, says NEJM article

There are many other reasons for hair loss as well; usually transient shedding of hair is associated with drugs, fever, hormonal abnormalities, pregnancy, anemia, and malnutrition.

For cancer patients, it is usually chemotherapy. Chemotherapy consists of drugs used to kill cancer cells. They are useful in patients who have cancer at more than one site. The disadvantage is that all cancer cells may not be susceptible to these drugs and they kill some normal and healthy cells as well.

Chemotherapy entails lengthy treatments with side-effects like hair loss, nausea, vomiting diarrhea, depression and weakening of body’s immune system.

Shiny is sexy? Balderdash

This was the headline to a news item in the National Post in November, 2000. A survey of 1,502 Canadians discovered that a significant number of males and females believed it was harder for a balding man to find a partner, a good job or respect in society.

The news item by Tom Arnold reports that the survey by the Canadian Hair Research Foundation found 60 percent of women prefer men with hair and the number rises to 74 percent among respondents aged 18 to 24.

However, reports Arnold, 70 percent of men surveyed – with or without hair – reported to be involved in sexual relationships. So in reality, it may not be too hard for a bald individual to find a partner.

Tony Snesko runs a web site called Bald R Us. The site is designed for “those who believe that God made a few perfect heads and on the rest He put hair.” Arnold says that in the first year of operation the site has attracted 10,000 members who are proud of their baldness.

In my family, my mom is shocked that I am getting my head shaved. My wife is speechless. And my children think it is funny. But they are proud that this is for a good cause. The question is: Did God give me a perfect head?

Find out tomorrow at Kin Coulee Park.

Start reading the preview of my book A Doctor's Journey for free on Amazon. Available on Kindle for $2.99!

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