3.5 minute read
Singapore is a multiracial society, home to 4 different races – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian.
Having lived in Singapore for the past 25 years, I have made my own observations of the biological differences between races.
One such observation is that Indian men tend to go bald more quickly than the rest of us and tend to be highly confident.
This is not exclusive to Singaporean Indians – it applies to India-born Indians as well.
My observation was further corroborated and confirmed during my internship at DBS Bank where there are many Indian male executives.
I found this unique phenomenon pretty fascinating so I decided to investigate it further and see whether the scientific literature fits my observation.
Indian Men Have Worrying Rates of Balding
The scientific term for balding is called alopecia and there are several studies that do illustrate that male alopecia rates are exceptionally high in Indian men.
In a 2009 study documented in the International Journal of Trichology, 58% of Indian men aged 30-50 suffered from various grades of alopecia . This is reasonably representative of the Indian population due to the random selection process (albeit not perfect).
In another study led by Dr Tejinder Bhatti, a hair loss specialist, 63.2% of Indian men aged 21-61 suffer from alopecia . Note that the figure here may be higher since the age range was expanded.
Alopecia is scarily prevalent even among young Indian men. In 2011, 46% of Indian men aged 21-31 have alopecia .
Meanwhile, a study of over 15000 Chinese men showed that only 21% of Chinese men have alopecia. Even 70+ year old Chinese men have a modest balding rate (41%) compared to average Indian men .
Now comes the tricky question… Why?
1. High Free Testosterone and DHT
In a study of the hormonal profile of Indian men with premature balding, scientists found that balding Indian men have two unique characteristics (compared to the control group) :
- Low Sex Hormone Binding Globulin
- High Free Testosterone measured by a proxy marker called the Free Androgen Index
Now this gets interesting, because free testosterone converts to DHT and DHT is a strong contributor to male baldness.
DHT binds to your hair follicles (roots) and shrinks them. This makes the entire hair fall out from your scalp – being almost irreversible as it takes years to regrow hair follicles.
That said, you do NOT want to consume DHT blockers like finasteride because DHT is an important hormone that gives men energy, motivation, focus and confidence.
High DHT levels would also explain why balding Indian men tend to be confident individuals (my personal observation).
What you want to do is to mitigate the localized DHT effect on your scalp. One possible remedy is to use a DHT-blocking shampoo called Nizoral.
2. Obesity As A Contributing Factor
Being overweight or obese more than quadruples your odds of suffering from early-onset male alopecia .
The biological mechanism isn’t fully established but there is one likely explanation.
Obese men tend to be highly insulin resistant – this makes them produce more insulin and growth factor IGF-1. In turn, these two substances increase DHT yet again!
If you recall, DHT binds and shrinks hair follicles causing them to fall out.
Incidentally, Indian men are facing an obesity epidemic. Among urban men, obesity increased from 26% in 2005 to 34% in 2016. Many more are overweight. 
I’m in no position to judge anyone’s eating behaviour but the facts remain on the table: eating too much may cause men to shed hair quickly, and this is likely what is happening to Indian men.
Action Steps For Men Who Are Prone To Balding
- Continue to optimize your hormone levels but use DHT-blocking shampoos such as Nizoral
- Keep your body mass within healthy levels and avoid overeating
- Maintain insulin sensitivity by replacing carbohydrates with protein or fat
This was another fun article to write. If you realised, everything came back to one fundamental finding – that Indian men have more DHT.
DHT is a double-edged sword as it makes men masculine, but it causes alopecia and has been linked to prostate issues.
My personal observation is that Indian men tend to be assertive, confident and cognitively sharp. These are all characteristics of high-DHT individuals.
Of course, hair loss can be caused by many other nutritional deficiencies but there is scant data comparing the nutrition of Indian men compared to other countries. I can’t even find updated data on the nutritional intake of Singaporeans.
Hair loss can also be genetic but it takes a geneticist to write that sort of article. Maybe I will get there one day…
Protect your hair!