Guys, if you've ever wished you could look into a crystal ball and see if hair plugs are in your future, scientists have good news. Using data from 53,000 men in the UK, they've come up with a DNA-based algorithm that could someday predict whether one is likely to go bald—one that's more reliable than family history. More to the point for those worried about it is the second half of this sentence: "The results of this study might help identify those at greatest risk of hair loss, and also potential genetic targets for intervention," says a study co-author, per NBC News. In the study, the largest such one of male-pattern baldness to date, University of Edinburgh researchers identified 287 genetic markers linked to hair loss, per a release. That's quite a step up, given that only eight such markers had been previously identified, reports Live Science.
"We are still a long way from making an accurate prediction for an individual's hair-loss pattern," says co-author Riccardo Marioni. "However, these results take us one step closer" and "pave the way for an improved understanding of the genetic causes." For now, researchers say their algorithm can be applied only to groups of people, but they hope to fine-tune it, perhaps by factoring in ages at the onset of baldness in future studies. Another of the researchers points to a notable factor: "It was interesting to find that many of the genetics signals for male pattern baldness came from the X chromosome, which men inherit from their mothers." That suggests the maternal side is more to blame than previously thought, notes Seeker. (An alleged Rogaine thief had a predictable mugshot.)