Sure, beards are hot today, but have you noticed that while some men are able to grow lush face bears, others struggle to grow more than a scraggly patch of wiry hair on their chins? Most of us suspect that it has to do with genetics, and now modern science is proving that theory right with the discovery of 18 genes that influence hair traits.
The New Gene Study
The study was conducted in Latin America to help ensure a broad mixture of ancestry. All subjects in the study had European, Native American, and African ancestries, providing invaluable insight into different genetic backgrounds.
The 18 different genes discovered all relate to hair growth in one way or another. For instance, one gene (only found in those with European ancestry) is tied to early graying. Another gene is tied to the thickness and density of facial hair while another is connected to eyebrow thickness (and the dreaded unibrow). Actually, the study found four genes tied directly to beard growth: EDAR, LNX1, PREP, and FOXP2.
No Help for Non-Beard Growers Yet
The new gene discovery, while very important and illustrative, isn’t going to help those who struggle to grow facial hair just yet. There’s a lot more work to do before those findings can be put to meaningful use. However, once a few more steps have been taken, there are quite a few different things that might be possible. For instance, drug manufacturers might be able to target these genes and switch them on or off to help grow thicker and fuller facial hair.
Graying might become a thing of the past, and we might even be able to genetically target balding. Other potential uses for this include forensic work, where investigators might be able to use genetic information to predict how a suspect might look if he grew a beard, or after many years have passed (if he carried the gene related to balding, for instance).
In the meantime, men who struggle to grow beards will just have to follow a few important tips for fostering better hair growth. Nutrition is a huge factor in hair growth, density, shine, and other characteristics. Grooming and training your facial hair is also important for getting the look you want, whether you’re after a lumberjack-esque beard or want something a bit more svelte and modern.
Photos from: avemario © 123RF.com and goodluz © 123RF.com.