Baldness linked to higher risk of heart disease, prostate cancer

CRegal Editor
  • Bald Brotherhood beware: You could be at a higher risk of developing heart disease and prostate cancer.  As if losing your hair wasn't bad enough, new research has found that going bald could put you at higher risk of developing serious health conditions.

     

    The first study, published in the journal BMJ Open, found that male pattern baldness may be linked to a higher risk of developing coronary heart disease.  The one positive from that research is that the increased risks are tied to men losing hair on the top of their heads, and not through receding hairlines.   

     

    The University of Tokyo study looked at six reports pulled from the Medline and Cochrane Library databases, which combined to account for nearly 40,000 men over a 15-year period.  The researchers found that among men aged 55 to 60, bald or extensively balding men had a 44 percent increased probability of heart disease.  Among younger men, balding men had an 84 percent elevated risk.  All told, the study found that balding men had a 70 percent higher risk of having heart disease than those with full heads of hair.

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    The research suggested that an increase in baldness severity also increased the risk of heart disease.  "Extensive vertex baldness" raised the risk by 48 percent, moderate vertex baldness increased risk by 36 percent and mild vertex baldness elevated risk of heart disease by 18 percent.  Though the study found the closest ties between heart disease and "vertex baldness," men with both crown-top baldness and a receding hairline had a 69 percent increased risk of developing coronary disease--more than either the crown-only or frontal-only baldness. 

     

    But what does going bald have to do with heart disease?  The study authors speculated that baldness may point to a state of chronic inflammation, increased sensitivity to testosterone or insulin resistance, which is a precursor to diabetes.  Each of these conditions is directly or indirectly associated with the development of cardiovascular disease. 

     

    The second study, conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, found that baldness was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer among African-American men, especially younger men losing their hair.  According to the research,  published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, baldness was associated with a 69 percent increased risk of prostate cancer.  Men with frontal baldness – a.k.a. a receding hairline – were more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer.  Balding men diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 60 were at significantly higher risk for developing both higher stages and higher grades prostate cancer.

     

    This bit of information – that the correlation was drawn after the men had been diagnosed with cancer – is interesting.  This study linked the two issues – baldness and prostate cancer – but did not establish a causation-relationship; baldness does not necessarily cause cancer, nor does cancer lead to baldness, according to the research results.  At the time of cancer diagnosis, men with frontal baldness were more likely to have a higher PSA level, though the exact association was not specified by the researchers. 

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    The researchers did, however, acknowledge that early-onset baldness may be a risk factor for early-onset prostate cancer, especially among younger African-American men. So baldness could now be used as an indicator of increased risk of prostate cancer among some populations.  It should also be noted that the study specifically refers to African-American men, and that’s because the study was only conducted with data from African-American men. That doesn’t mean that men of other races don’t have the same correlation, only that they were not tested for this study.

     

    Sources

     

    American Association for Cancer Research. (March 28, 2013). "Association Between Early-Onset Baldness In African-American Men And Prostate Cancer." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/258256.php.

     

    Glynn, S. (2013, April 4). "Baldness Linked To Higher Risk Of Coronary Heart Disease." Medical News Today. Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/258601.php.

     

Published On: April 07, 2013