Study Ties Male Pattern Baldness to Higher Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

First Posted: Sep 16, 2014 03:19 AM EDT

A new study links a specific pattern of baldness in men to an elevated risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer later in life.

The latest study by the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that men who start to lose hair from the front as well as the crown of their head at the age of 45 years have a 40 percent increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer, the second most common cancer among men. The researchers, however, did not find any significant association between other patterns of baldness and prostate cancer risk.

The finding that is based on the analysis of the Prospective Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Screening Trail, supports the previous finding, that there is some link between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer.

"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," said senior study author Michael B. Cook.

The researcher continues to explain that though the data reveals the link between baldness and the development of prostate cancer, it's early to apply these findings to patient care.

Prostate cancer, which is diagnosed in an estimated 80 percent of men who reach the age of 80 years, is the most common cancer diagnosed among men after skin cancer and can be treated successfully. Several reports have provided the evidence that prostate cancer and male pattern baldness - progressive scalp hair-loss in a distinct pattern - increase the levels of male sex hormones and androgen receptors, further supporting the biological association between baldness and prostate cancer development and progression.

In this study, the researchers looked at the male pattern baldness in association to prostate cancer risk in 39,070 men who were part of the PLCO Cancer Screening Trail. The participants, aged between 55-74 years, were made to answer a questionnaire that enquired about their hair-loss patterns at the age 45 years using a pictorial tool.

They noticed that during the follow up, nearly 1,138 cases of prostate cancer were identified in which 51 percent were aggressive. The mean age at the time of the prostate cancer diagnosis was 72 years.

Men with a particular pattern of baldness, i.e. loss of hair from frontal and moderate crown, had 40 percent increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer as compared to men with no baldness. 

This study was documented in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. 

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