Not long ago, I was having dinner with a friend in his late 20s, and when the topic somehow turned to hair loss, his panic was palpable. "I don't even want to talk about it," he told, shuddering and putting a hand to his substantial curls. Currently there may be less for him and other men to worry about.

The cause of male patterned baldness, doctors have long believed, is found in the cluster of stem cells that generally exist inside each hair follicle. As long as the cells are healthy and abundant, so is hair. When they disappear, the hair goes with them. But a new research published on Jan. 4 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation suggests that things are subtler than that

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at discarded pieces of scalp from 54 men seeking hair transplants, all but one of whom were not using medication meant to slow balding. The scalp samples were divided into two groups: some already hairless and some that retained hair. The researchers found that in both groups, the samples contained the equal number of stem cells within the hair follicle and that's huge news in the baldness world.