Baldness is a condition that undoubtedly affects self-esteem but research suggests it may have more serious physical implications as far as health risks are concerned.
Rapid hair loss may be a marker for coronary heart disease, according to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine which included more than 22, 000 men aged 40 to 84. The study found that compared to men with no hair loss, those with severe vertex baldness (balding at the crown of the head) had a 36% increased risk of heart disease; men with moderate crown balding had a 32% increased risk, while mild balding on the crown carried a 23% increased risk…. Men with frontal baldness had a 9% increased risk.
Another study conducted by the US National Cancer Institute of the National Institute of Health Division of Cancer Epidemiology found that “male pattern baldness seems to be a risk factor for clinical prostate cancer”. The study based on 4,421 men with male pattern baldness aged 25 to 75 without history of prostate cancer revealed that the risk for prostate cancer was significantly elevated among these men, compared to those with abundant hair.
Physicians may now be using male pattern baldness as an early clinical marker or indicator of susceptibility to heart disease and prostate cancer but Dr. Elena Dimitrova is still cautious about the extent of such truth.
“It is possible that a link exists but whether baldness is a trigger of these conditions or merely a symptom of another triggering factor is uncertain,” Dr. Dimitrova said. Heart disease and hair loss are both related to poor blood circulation and prostate cancer and hair loss are both the result of a genetic predisposition.
“Hair loss is caused by the male hormone dirivitive, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which also plays a part in prostate cancer,” she said. “And poor blood circulation is related to heart disease but can also lead to diffuse thinning which can result in baldness.”
Most men carry the bald gene and there are a number of factors that can trigger the onset of hair loss. “Puberty can be a triggering factor, that is why some people start to experience hair loss early in life whereas others won’t notice it until later on when something else will trigger it,” Dr. Dimitrova said.
Male pattern baldness is a progressive and hereditary hair loss condition but the effects can be combated with effective, clinically and scientifically proven treatment. There are some lifestyle and environmental factors that have been linked to the onset of hairloss and these can be addressed by minimising all modifiable health risks, like cigarette smoking, excess alcohol intake, high-cholesterol, high-fat diet, a sedentary lifestyle, and unmanaged stress. Such measures for a healthier lifestyle will also help counter the increased risk for heart disease and prostate cancer among all individuals, including those men with male pattern baldness.
However, hair loss is in most cases is hereditary and if someone is a genetically predetermined culprit, ultimately, the only way to prevent hair loss is to combat that genetic process. There are currently only two medically and scientifically proven treatments for hair loss and if combined and administered correctly, with close specialised monitoring, will prevent and reverse hair loss in most cases. One of these drugs, Propecia, has recently been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
(Bald man pic courtesy of TheeErin at flikr)