THE good news for men is that scientists have discovered a cause of baldness - the failure of hair-producing cells to develop properly. The bad news is that effective treatment could be a decade away. While your genes play a major role in hair loss, what many men dont realise is that their everyday habits could be exacerbating the problem. Here, Britains leading hair experts reveal the simple steps to help minimise it: DONT BRUSH TOO HARD This can scratch the scalp and pull the hair out at the root, damaging the hair follicle. Its important to treat the scalp gently when shampooing, and never tug at your hair with a brush or comb, says Dr Bessam Farjo, a hair restoration surgeon from Manchester. Dandruff, eczema or dermatitis (characterised by an itchy, flaky scalp) are linked to hair loss; they trigger inflammation, which has an adverse effect on hair follicles. EAT COOKED BREAKFAST Hair is composed of keratin, which gives it its strength. Too little protein (red meat, fish, eggs, chicken) affects keratin levels; your hair will lose its strength and stop growing, says Philip Kingsley, consultant trichologist. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for boosting your hair follicles, he says. AVOID PETROLEUM-BASED WAXES There is some evidence that petroleum-based styling waxes (look for paraffin or petroleum on the labels list of ingredients) can block hair follicles and cause them to stop growing, says London-based hairdresser Jimmy Campbell. This is especially true if it is used heavily over a long time. Stick to water-based products. USE RELAXATION TECHNIQUES Having an excess of male hormones may not sound like a bad thing, but testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can have an adverse effect on certain parts of the hair follicle, says Philip Kingsley. They seep down the hair shaft and cause it to become thinner, making the hairs seem further apart. Once the hair shrinks to a certain diameter it will stop growing completely. When men are under stress, their body produces more male hormones, and so tend to lose more hair. EAT NUTS A lack of dietary iron can also lead to hair loss. If you dont have enough iron, your levels of ferritin drop (this is a molecule that stores iron in the body and releases it in a controlled way). This in turn disrupts the normal hair growth cycle and increases hair shedding. Eating foods rich in iron, such as red meat, dark green vegetables, nuts and dried fruits, will help reduce this excess hair shedding. DONT COLOUR HAIR Frequent colouring of the hair - either an all over dye or highlights - can lead to hair loss. Using significant amounts of bleach (found in nearly all hair lightening products) can strip it of its natural moisture, leading to dry, brittle hair that breaks easily, says Dr Farjo. This tends to make hair look much thinner. Studies have also shown that dyes that contain the chemical para-phenylenediamine can cause severe allergic reactions and dermatitis, which may lead to damage to the scalp and hair follicles. STOP SMOKING Recent research from the journal Archives of Dermatology suggest that, as well as causing cancer and heart disease, smoking can also make your hair fall out. It is thought that, just as smoking can cause damage to peripheral blood vessels in the body, it may also damage blood supply to the hair follicle. The smoking and environmental factors such as pollution could also affect hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Daily Mail