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Thyroid levels affect Alzheimer’s risk – study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Women with low or high levels of a hormone that affects thyroid gland function and thyroid hormone levels may have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease, researchers reported Monday.

While it is not clear whether Alzheimer’s affects thyroid function or the other way around, the findings dovetail with long-standing knowledge that having an underactive or overactive thyroid can affect memory.

Dr. Zaldy Tan of Hebrew SeniorLife, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues looked at measured levels of a thyroid-regulating hormone called thyrotropin in 1,864 healthy men and women with an average age of 71.

They had blood drawn as part of the larger Framingham Health Study in which practically everyone in a Massachusetts town has had their health scrutinized for decades.

Writing in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, Tan and colleagues said 209 of the volunteers had developed Alzheimer’s disease after nearly 13 years.

Women with the lowest and highest levels of thyrotropin had more than double the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. No such relationship was seen in men.

Changes in the brain caused by Alzheimer’s disease may reduce the amount of thyrotropin released, Tan’s team said. Alternately, low or high thyrotropin levels could damage brain cells or blood vessels.

They said the findings should be tested in a larger population. (Reporting by Maggie Fox; editing by Todd Eastham)

Source: Reuters North American News Service

TE vs. CTE

Just wanted to summarize some research I’ve done over the past couple of years… for the benefit of my fellow TE shedders… Here goes…

Classic TE lasts roughly 3-6 months and has a very specific and temporary trigger… e.g. childbirth, major surgery, illness

CTE is basically TE lasting longer than 6 months and the insult or trigger is sort of a mystery…

Based upon my research… CTE in women can usually be attributed to a hormonal imbalance (e.g. too much estrogen or not enough) or other metabolic disturbance (e.g. thyroid) and also iron deficiency…

now… hormonal imbalances / metabolic disorders are pretty common with us chicks in this day and age… and there’s many reasons for this… too many to enumerate… but this link should help explain part of the problem:
http://womenlivingnaturally.com/articlepage.php?id=73

As far as iron deficiency… if you are menstruating and don’t eat alot of red meat or tons of green leafy veggies… chances are you are iron deficient on some level… as iron is stored in the blood… and blood loss = iron loss.

Anyway… hope this helps!!!
~ venus71, HHLH Forum Member

Birth Control / Contraceptives and Hair Loss

BCPs contain a combination of estrogen and progestin. All BCPs now have one main source of estrogen — ethinyl estradiol. Ethinyl estradiol is a constant in the BCP equation but the part that changes is the progestin level. There are a number of different types of progestin and some of them are higher in androgenic value than others. I’ve compiled data from a number of different sources and come up with a handy chart that helps you identify which BCPs are high in androgens and which ones are lower. Remember that the higher the androgens, the more likely it will cause excessive hair loss, acne and hirsutism.

Click the image to view the full PDF file.

Click the image to view the full PDF file.

Photo trichogram findings in women with AGA

Phototrichogram findings in women with androgenetic alopecia.
Department of Dermatology, Sisli Etfal Research and Training Hospital, Istanbul, Turkey.

Background/purpose: Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) in women is characterized by diffuse thinning in the frontal and parietal areas of the scalp; preservation of the frontal hairline is norm. Hair over the occipital scalp is preserved. The purpose of this work was to investigate the findings of phototrichogram (PTG) of the affected and the spared areas in women with AGA and to compare them with those of healthy subjects.

Methods: Twenty-two controls and 60 untreated women with AGA (32 with Ludwig I, 28 with Ludwig II) were included in this study. Hair density, percentages of thin hair, and non-growing hair were estimated both on the midscalp and on the occiput by using PTG with digital camera attached to a dermoscope.

Results: In the control group, hair density was higher on the midscalp than the occiput. In AGA groups, hair density was lower on the midscalp than the occiput and percentages of thin hair and non-growing hair were higher on the midscalp than the occiput. These findings were more prominent in Ludwig II group. In the occiput there were findings mimicking the changes seen on the midscalp. These were less striking than those seen on the midscalp yet the difference between the control and Ludwig II group was statistically significant.

Conclusion: We concluded that the hair is not equally distributed on the scalp, the occiput may be affected in females with AGA and further studies are necessary to support these findings.

PMID: 17026665 [PubMed – in process]

Photo image of middle aged woman with AGA

Photo image of middle aged woman with female pattern baldness.  Courtesy of www.trichologists.org.uk

Photo image of middle aged woman with female pattern baldness. Courtesy of www.trichologists.org.uk

What Causes Alopecia Universalis?

In alopecia universalis, immune system cells called white blood cells attack the rapidly growing cells in the hair follicles that make the hair. The affected hair follicles become small and drastically slow down hair production. Fortunately, the stem cells that continually supply the follicle with new cells do not seem to be targeted. So the follicle always has the potential to regrow hair.

Scientists do not know exactly why the hair follicles undergo these changes, but they suspect that a combination of genes may predispose some people to the disease. In those who are genetically predisposed, some type of trigger–perhaps a virus or something in the person’s environment–brings on the attack against the hair follicles.

There are, however, studies that have been done that show a genetic link for those people who are diagnosed as having Alopecia Universalis. According to MedicineNet.com, the “disorder is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. It is caused by a mutation in a gene dubbed HR in chromosome band 8p21.2 that is the human homolog of the mouse “hairless” gene — the human version of the gene in the mouse that is responsible for hairless mice.” Huh?? Basically they are saying that a good majority of those who develop alopecia universalis have a hereditary gene that could be the possible cause of their hair loss. This is great news since pinpointing a gene may provide scientists a more targeted approach to treating hair growth disorders such as alopecia.

More information concerning studies such as this can be found at:

How can I cope with the effects of AGA?


Living with hair loss can be hard, especially in a culture that views hair as a sign of youth and good health. Even so, most people with alopecia areata are well-adjusted, contented people living full lives.

The key to coping is valuing yourself for who you are, not for how much hair you have or don’t have. Many people learning to cope with alopecia areata find it helpful to talk with other people who are dealing with the same problems. More than four million people nationwide have this disease at some point in their lives, so you are not alone. We have a number of women who live with alopecias of all kinds a daily basis in our Online Community who can help through message boards and support groups.

Another way to cope with the disease is to minimize its effects on your appearance. A wig or hairpiece can look natural and stylish. For small patches of hair loss, a hair-colored powder, cream, or crayon applied to the scalp can make hair loss less obvious by eliminating the contrast between the hair and the scalp. Skillfully applied eyebrow pencil can mask missing eyebrows.

For women, attractive scarves can hide patchy hair loss; jewelry and clothing can distract attention from patchy hair; and proper makeup can camouflage the effects of lost facial hair. If you would like to learn more about camouflaging the cosmetic aspects of androgenetic alopecia, ask your doctor or members of your local support group to recommend a cosmetologist who specializes in working with people whose appearance is affected by medical conditions.

Photo Image of Alopecia Barbae

Image photo of alopecia barbae (barbie)

Image photo of alopecia barbae (barbie)

How is Androgenetic Areata (AGA) treated?

Only 2 proven, food and drug administration (FDA) approved medications are currently available for treatment of androgenetic alopecia: minoxidil and finasteride.

  • Minoxidil (5%): Rogaine: Topical minoxidil solution promotes hair growth in several conditions in which the hair follicle is small and not growing to its full potential. Minoxidil is FDA-approved for treating male and female pattern hair loss. It may also be useful in promoting hair growth in alopecia areata. The solution, applied twice daily, has been shown to promote hair growth in both adults and children, and may be used on the scalp, brow, and beard areas. With regular and proper use of the solution, new hair growth appears in about 12 weeks.

    Although the method of action is essentially unknown, minoxidil appears to lengthen the duration of the anagen phase, and it may increase the blood supply to the follicle. Regrowth is more pronounced at the vertex than in the frontal areas and is not noted for at least 4 months. Continuing topical treatment with the drug is necessary indefinitely because discontinuation of treatment produces a rapid reversion to the pretreatment balding pattern.

    Patients who respond best to this drug are those who have a recent onset of androgenetic alopecia and small areas of hair loss. The drug is marketed as a 2% or a 5% solution, with the 5% solution being somewhat more effective. A recent 48-week study compared the 2 strengths in men. Findings indicated that 45% more regrowth occurred with the 5% compared with the 2% solution. In general, women respond better to topical minoxidil than men. The increase in effectiveness of the 5% solution was not evident for women in the FDA-controlled studies. Subsequent studies have shown at best a modest advantage to the higher concentration in women. In addition, the occurrence of facial hair growth appears to be increased with the use of the higher-concentration formulation.

  • Finasteride: Propecia: Finasteride is given orally and is a 5 alpha-reductase type 2 inhibitor. It is not an antiandrogen. The drug can be used only in men because it can produce ambiguous genitalia in a developing male fetus. Finasteride has been shown to diminish the progression of androgenetic alopecia in males who are treated, and, in many patients, it has stimulated new regrowth.

    Although it affects vertex balding more than frontal hair loss, the medication has been shown to increase regrowth in the frontal area as well. Finasteride must be continued indefinitely because discontinuation results in gradual progression of the disorder. A study in postmenopausal women indicated no beneficial effect of the medication in treating female androgenetic alopecia.

  • Exogenous Estrogen: In the past, exogenous estrogen was used to treat androgenetic alopecia. This treatment is used less often now, because minoxidil is more effective. In fertile women with androgenetic alopecia who request oral contraception, it is important to select a pill containing the least androgenic progestin, such as norgestimate (in Ortho-Cyclen, Ortho Tri-Cyclen), norethindrone (in Ovcon 35), desogestrel (in Mircette), or ethynodiol diacetate (in Demulen, Zovia).
  • Hair Transplantation: Hair transplants involve removing healthy hair follicles from one area of the scalp and transplanting them to the bald areas. Surgical treatment of androgenetic alopecia has been successfully performed for the past 4 decades. Although the cosmetic results are often satisfactory, the main problem is covering the bald area with donor plugs (or follicles) sufficient in number to be effective. Micrografting produces a more natural appearance than the old technique of transplanting plugs. Patients with less than 40 follicular units/cm2 in their donor areas are poor candidates for the procedure. Scalp reduction has been attempted to decrease the size of the scalp to be covered by transplanted hair. However, the scars produced by the reduction technique often spread and become more noticeable with time.

    Hair weaving techniques are available, and, together with hairpieces, they offer the patient a prosthetic method of coverage.

  • Spironolactone: Aldactone: This drug is a weak competitive inhibitor of androgen binding to androgen receptors. It also decreases the synthesis of testosterone. For these reasons, orally administered spironolactone has been tried in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, although questions remain about its usefulness. Spironolactone can be beneficial in women who also have hirsuitism. However, the FDA has not labeled this drug for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia.