Excuse my baldness

In a recent post about this beautiful Hebrew language, I was discussing how fast street idioms evolve and age. Do you remember the expression tered li mi ha karakha (lit. “get off my baldness” as in “leave me alone”)? Well, I might have found out why it is not so popular anymore.

I had an (early) epiphany leafing through the weekend supplement of the Haaretz newspaper: a silhouette of a bald head dominating page B8 under the title “Trend or Trauma? Whether due to genetic, environmental or ethnic factors, Israeli men are going bald earlier then they once did.” [Haaretz, 25/12/2009, p. B8]

Ah! I knew it: much more bald heads around, and much younger then they should be. It all started with a friend throwing in an observation while waiting at the arrivals at Ben Gurion airport. “You know – he said – I don’t understand why there are so many bold men in Israel. Look around! Every other man is bald“. I did notice the high percentage of shaved heads shining through the Israeli crowd, but I had always thought they were the result of the “soldier look”  – think about the long years of military service that Israelis have to serve. Short – or shaved – is practical.

Now for the first time I read something a journalist has to say about it. Sarit Menahem did not write this article from a scientific point of view, but rather as a sociological essay. Young people are getting bald and they don’t like it. This realization is followed by a few interviews with men who went bald as early as 25 or 27. “It’s uncomfortable” they say. “It hurts your self-esteem“. “It makes you look older“. One person even claims that “My father and I went bald at the same time: he was 65, I was 25“. Oh my God.

We also hear the opinion of a Dr. Ginzburg, a dermatologist and hair-transplant specialist. “Jews – especially of Ashkenazi descent – tend to go bald more than Christians and Muslims“. He continues: “We are not imaging it, it’s really happening. We are going bald earlier than we did 20 or 30 years ago. When I was 20, none of my friends were going bald. Now two out of three guys in their early 20s are beginning to lose their hair“.

How do the scientific community explain this?

There are a few factors which are suspected to cause baldness: aging,  genetic predisposition, stress, lack of certain vitamins. Dr. Ginzburg has his own theory concerning the proliferation of baldness in Israel: radiations and changes in nutrition (for the worst). A nutrition based on frozen and industrially processed food introduces high levels of hormones in the organism. We heard hormones causing men to grow tits and girls to menstruate at age 8, so why not baldness?

Actually I just remembered we were recently told that scientists discovered bodybuilders have more incidence of baldness due to a toxic substance released by the soaring testosterone after a weights session. Let me put it simply: you work out hard to be stronger, healthier and muscled, and you lose your hair as a side effect. What a life.

Particularly aggressive and chemical hair products can also trigger hair loss and consequent baldness. Most of the commercially available shampoo contain SLS (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), a harsh detergent used in garage floor cleaners and engine degreasers! Mmmmm, still in love with that foam?

From a totally unscientific point of view, I can tell you about my Israeli boyfriend (35 +): he has the most amazing, dense, thick hair I have ever seen. He hardly lifts a pen. And he never, never uses shampoo, just water.

Maybe the hippies had it right?

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