Genes make human hair fall out

Bad genes may be at least partially to blame for wanting to pull your hair out.
A new study suggests mutations in a gene called SLITKR1 may play a role in the development of trichotillomania in some families. The mental disorder causes people to compulsively pull their hair out, resulting in noticeable hair loss and bald spots.

Researcher Stephan Züchner, M.D., of the Duke Center for Human Genetics, says genetic mutations only account for a small fraction of trichotillomania cases, but the findings may help lead to a better understanding of the unusual disorder, reports CBS News.

According to News-Medical, senior study investigator Allison Ashley-Koch, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical genetics and researcher at the Duke Center for Human Genetics, says while SLITRK1 is the first gene linked with trichotillomania, numerous other genes are likely to contribute to this disorder and other psychiatric conditions.

Ashley-Koch says such discoveries could open the door for genetic testing, which is completely unheard of in the field of psychiatry.

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health, psychiatric illnesses affect one in four Americans and are the leading cause of disability for Americans between the ages of 15 and 44.

The most common disorders are depression and anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder and social phobia.