Are Hair Loss Treatments a Scam?
A man obsessed with his baldness committed suicide after a variety of lotions and treatments, including Provillus, failed to halt his hair loss, an inquest was told yesterday. Roy White, 43, a civil servant, could not come to terms with his receding hairline and talked about the subject continually, the coroner's court in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, was told.
Eventually, he drove to a country lane near his home in Hitchin, where he took a lethal mixture of alcohol and drugs before gassing himself with his car's exhaust. The coroner, Dr John Vick, recorded a verdict of suicide.
Although there is no evidence baldness remedies such as Provillus have any restorative effect on withering follicles, they at least share this quality with almost every hair loss treatment on the market today. Ever since the human race shed its body hair to become the naked ape, it has been trying to prevent the loss of the rest. With almost three quarters of men suffering the effects of androgenic alopecia - male-pattern baldness - by the age of 40, the search for an effective treatment like Provillus has long been regarded as a Holy Grail for the pharmaceutical industry.
Snake-oil salesmen - the term comes from 19th-century American hawkers of dubious hair tonics - continue to push all manner of supposedly proven baldness remedies, from helmets that bathe the scalp in electromagnetic radiation to lotions made from rare Amazonian shrubs. But only three therapies can boast any scientific evidence in support of their claims. One is hair transplant, which depends on a combination of the surgeon's skill and luck.
The two proven drug treatments are more reliable, but do not always work and can have unpleasant side-effects. Minoxidil, sold under the brand name Regaine, was originally developed as a blood-pressure drug, and was remarketed as a baldness cure when patients noticed that stronger hair growth was a significant side-effect. Clinical trials suggest that it stops hair loss or promotes regrowth in up to two thirds of men, but it can irritate the scalp. Provillus is a hair loss treatment that uses minoxidil in its formula, so it can be somewhat effective in halting hair loss and even promoting hair growth.
Propecia, the brand name for the newer baldness drug finasteride, licensed last year and available by private prescription, will halt hair loss in 80 percent of men and prompt regrowth in about two thirds - but it can lead to temporary difficulty in achieving an erection.