A new study led by Philippe Giraud out of the Georges Pompidou European Hospital in Paris, France and published in the Annals of Oncology suggests that there may be a link between men who start balding early in life and the risk of developing prostate cancer later in life. The claim is made that men who started losing their hair in their 20’s are twice as likely to develop prostate cancer than those who start to lose it in their 30’s and 40’s.
The study is interesting because it links early balding (called androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness) with prostate cancer by what is believed to be a common cause between them; the levels of sex hormones in the body called androgens. Previous studies have been conducted that show high androgen levels to be a contributor to early male pattern baldness as well as increased risk of prostate cancer.
The way in which the researches came to their conclusion was to survey a group of 388 men currently being treated for prostate cancer, with a group of 281 men as a cancer-free control group. They were all shown a standardized set of pictures of different degrees of balding and asked to identify how their hair looked at the ages of 20, 30, and 40. From this the researchers found a higher degree of prostate cancer among men who started balding earlier in their lives. Men who started losing their hair in their 30’s and 40’s did not show an increased risk of prostate cancer.
While the findings of this study are interesting additional work needs to be done to verify the conclusion. If this link can be verified it would provide us doctors with a very simple method of determining patients that are at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer. As everyone who follows my blogs and videos knows, early detection is key when treating this disease. Every bit of information we can find that would help us in identifying high risk patients and providing better screening and earlier treatment is a major benefit.