What does male pattern baldness have to do with prostate health?

Male pattern baldness accounts for more than 95 percent of hair loss cases among men, and by the age of 35, two-thirds of American men…

Male pattern baldness linked to aggressive prostate cancer.(Shutterstock)

Male pattern baldness accounts for more than 95 percent of hair loss cases among men, and by the age of 35, two-thirds of American men will have experienced some form of appreciable hair loss. But the pattern of hair loss become even more important for men when experts take a closer look at prostate health.

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Male pattern baldness, defined as hair receding from the lateral sides of the forehead, is also known as androgenetic alopecia.

This condition is typically hereditary, and the American Hair Loss Association indicates male pattern baldness is caused by a genetic sensitivity to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a by-product of testosterone. It is this link to testosterone that also links male pattern baldness to prostate health.

In a new study publish in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, experts suggest both prostate cancer and male pattern baldness are  linked to increased levels of male sex hormones known as androgens and androgen receptors. Since testosterone is an androgen, a hyper-sensitivity to DHT would result in male pattern baldness. It would also, however, result in an increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer.

Out of a test pool of more than 39,000 men, researchers were able to determine men who had frontal and moderate crown baldness were 40 percent more likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer, compared with men who did not have any baldness.

The findings are similar to those revealed in a study on African American men in 2013 which demonstrated men with male pattern baldness were 69 percent more likely to develop prostate cancer compared to men with no baldness.

“Our study found an increased risk for aggressive prostate cancer only in men with a very specific pattern of hair loss, baldness at the front and moderate hair-thinning on the crown of the head, at the age of 45. But we saw no increased risk for any form of prostate cancer in men with other hair-loss patterns,” study author Michael B. Cook, PhD, said according to MNT. “While our data show a strong possibility for a link between the development of baldness and aggressive prostate cancer, it’s too soon to apply these findings to patient care.”

And while male pattern baldness does indicate a sensitivity to testosterone by-products, it was a specific pattern of baldness researchers found correlated to prostate cancer. The male pattern baldness being evaluated was that appearing laterally on the sides of the forehead along with hair loss on the crown on the head.

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Also, it’s important to note frontal and moderate crown baldness were only linked to aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Researchers found no significant link between male pattern baldness and a risk for non-aggressive prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer affects more than 200,000 men annually, according to the American Cancer Society, and while it is the second leading cause of cancer death in men, prostate cancer is considered highly treatable if detected early on. It is possible that one day male pattern baldness may be incorporated as a tool to help identify prostate cancer before it reaches advanced stages.