A new study of 1,000 men with hair loss who were aged between 25 and 35 has found that a staggering 85 per cent of them have hypertension.
What is perhaps even more remarkable is that three quarters of these people work in the IT sector and lead what the researchers call “a sedentary life.”
The study was conducted by the Hairline International Research & Treatment Centre in Bangalore, and focused on local men with the genetic hair loss condition Male Pattern Baldness, a treatable condition that affects many millions of men. This is the same research centre that previously found a link between hair loss and plastics from food packaging that enter the bloodstream.
The scientists say that the study demonstrated an association between genetic baldness and hypertension, and that Male Pattern Baldness may be considered a clinical marker for high blood pressure.
Prior to this research, scientists at the centre’s six clinics had observed that in most cases of male pattern hairloss, the underlying causes were found to be “that of metabolic disorders such as coronary heart disease, obesity and hormonal disorders.”
This is especially interesting, as many doctors perceive Male Pattern Baldness to simply be a hereditary condition that chooses its own moment, so to speak, to initiate the follicle shrinkage that leads to hair loss. That said, other studies have suggested that MPB could be a marker for coronary heart disease; others say it seems to be a risk factor for prostate cancer. The fact that signs of genetic baldness could be an indicator for other underlying health conditions has recently led to calls for GPs to consider recategorising MPB so that it is no longer regarded as simply 'cosmetic'.
The Indian findings revealed that patients who arrived at the clinic seeking treatment for Male Pattern Baldness typically had stressful lives though this is not further explained and were perhaps already prime candidates for hypertension, a condition which is often simplified as “abnormally high blood pressure”. The researchers say that the study reinforces the idea that MPB may be an indicator of hypertension risk.
While the results do raise questions, it is always worth stepping back for a wider look at the data. Firstly, what shouldn’t be overlooked is the general prevalence of hypertension anyway according to a recent report in the Times of India, a third of Indian adults have high blood pressure. Additionally, might it be that the kind of man most likely to be able to afford treatment for hair loss in India is a young professional? Let’s also not forget that Bangalore is India’s Silicon Valley, where more than a third of the whole country’s IT professionals live and work.
What is undeniable is that stress is a known factor in multiple hair loss conditions, often triggering a temporary, generalised-thinning condition named Telogen Effluvium, but it is thought that stress can also exacerbate or speed up the onset of Male Pattern Baldness in men with an existing active genetic predisposition.
"It is well known that unusually high levels of hair shedding can be a sign of an underlying illness or health issue. This is particularly true of conditions such as thyroid disorders and diabetes, but whether this has a deeper significance generally depends if the hair thinning or receding are accompanied by other symptoms," says Leonora Doclis, senior Belgravia hair loss specialist.
She adds, "Many studies have looked into connections between male pattern baldness specifically and certain health problems, including coronary issues, and prostate cancer, to see if men with androgenetic alopecia may be more prone to some health issues than those without, and whilst some connection may well be possible, there is no definitive proof as yet. Therefore, if anyone is experiencing any symptoms in addition to their hair loss it is wise for them to consult their GP if they are concerned.”
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