The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the number of people living with chronic hair loss has more than doubled in the past 15 years, with the most dramatic increase in patients over age 65.
The number of new cases of the disease has also increased by about 50 percent since 2000.
The report said the increase in the number and severity of hair loss can be attributed to a variety of factors, including aging, diet, and lifestyle changes.
“We now know that the most common risk factor for hair loss is an aging-related immune response,” Dr. John Hargrove, who is a researcher in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), said in a statement.
“Our results suggest that the immune system plays a significant role in causing hair loss.
We know that it can lead to hair loss through changes in the immune function.”
Dr. Hargrot added that some of the most recent research indicates that hair loss may be triggered by stress or by exposure to ultraviolet radiation, which can lead the immune systems to attack and destroy hair follicles.
The NCBI study noted that the new findings are a step forward in understanding the biology of hair follicle destruction.
The study found that about one-third of patients with chronic disease who were tested for the gene showed the gene mutation that causes hair loss after treatment, and a third showed a similar mutation after treatment.
The study was published in the March issue of the journal Cell Metabolism.
Researchers also said that the researchers found that people who have a mutation in the gene known as BRCA1 were more likely to have hair loss than people with a similar gene mutation.
The researchers said that these findings point to a role for the BRCAs2 gene in hair loss and the potential for the mutation to increase the risk of developing the disease.
“It is important to understand that there is a genetic link between BRCAB1 and BRCAM1, the other major human gene involved in hair follicular destruction,” Dr Hargroot said.
“We also know that there are other gene mutations that can lead, through genetic inheritance, to hair folliculosis, and we are still investigating what that might mean for the disease.”
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research also published the study.
“The new research shows that there may be a connection between a mutation of the BCR-ABL gene and hair loss,” Dr Chris Lohmann, the study’s senior author, said in the NCBI statement.
“In the long term, this finding could lead to new treatments for people with BRCAS mutations, such as treatments that target the gene or drugs that target its gene.”
Dr Hargroid said that although he does not believe that the study is definitive, it is the most direct evidence that a mutation could increase the odds of hair-loss.
“There are no published studies on the link between hair loss in the face and BCRB1 or BRCB2 mutations,” Dr Lohann said.
“For people who are very concerned about the genetic link, we recommend that they seek a genetic test for their BRCS1 and/or BRCT1 mutations.”
Hair loss is the third most common cause of death in the United States, after heart disease and cancer.
The condition affects an estimated 30 million Americans, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.
Hair can also cause damage to the nervous system and can cause vision loss, diabetes, and hearing loss.
Hair loss is not contagious and is usually treated by cutting the hair off the affected area.
The National Institutes of Health, American Heart Association, and National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (NIH) are the primary sponsors of the study and are funding its research.