Can Hair Loss Indicate Prostate Cancer?

Hair Loss and Prostate Cancer The Belgravia Centre

Important research conducted by the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania in the USA has added weight to the theory that there could be a link between hair loss and prostate cancer in African American men. The focus on this ethnic group is because African American males have higher incidences of prostate cancer than other ethnic groups.

Scientists have long believed that hair loss may be an early indicator of prostate cancer in African American men, but the team from the University of Pennsylvania is the first to find statistical evidence to support the theory.

318 African American men were questioned by researchers about their hair loss at age 30. Each was asked to select whether they had no balding, a receding hairline, or the development of a bald patch on their crown (vertex thinning).

A link between hair loss and cancer?

Of the men questioned, those reporting significant hair loss by the age of 30 were found to be 70% more likely to go on to develop prostate cancer. Researchers also discovered that black men losing hair from the front of their head early were most likely to be affected by cancer in the future. These same men were also more likely to contract the most advanced and aggressive cancers than others.

Men who reported no baldness at age 30 were 2.6 times less likely to develop cancer. However 13% of this group of men still went on to develop cancer before the age of 60. Because of this, researchers were unable to conclusively prove a cause-and-effect link between hair loss and the development of prostate cancer.

Discussing the results of her team’s research, Dr Charnita Zeigler-Johnson suggested male hormones may help explain the correlation between baldness and prostate cancer: “Perhaps it is related to androgens, in particular to dihydrotestosterone [DHT], a metabolite of testosterone,” she said.

“We know an increase in DHT increases prostate cancer occurrence and progression. But it is also related to thinning of the hair follicles.”.

Losing hair? Seek professional advice

Androgenic Alopecia (Male Pattern Baldness) is the most common form of hair loss across the world: Roughly half of all men aged 50 will be experiencing noticeable hair loss for this reason. It is important to keep in mind that the vast majority of men who start to lose their hair do not go on to develop prostate cancer.

Whatever the findings of the team from the University of Pennsylvania, screening for cancer by measuring hair loss is not yet possible and much more research needs to be done before hair loss can be considered as a risk factor for any kind of cancer.

That said, men and women concerned about hair loss should seek professional advice as soon as possible, in order to receive an accurate diagnosis of their hair loss condition, and begin a treatment programme. The earlier hair loss is treated, the better chance the individual has of achieving significant hair re-growth.

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The Belgravia Centre

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