The hair loss
condition male pattern baldness is often suggested to be a warning sign for more severe medical problems though opinions on this vary and no definitive explanation as to why this may be the case has been forthcoming.
However, adding to the argument that men who lose their hair early in life may be susceptible to certain health problems, a new study from India appears to show overwhelming evidence that men who go grey and bald before they are 40 are much more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease (CAD).
Plausible risk factors
The research was undertaken at the U.N. Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre in Ahmedabad, where Sachin Patil, MD, wrote in a press release that the incidence of CAD in young men is increasing but cannot be explained by traditional risk factors. Patil added that, “premature greying and androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness
) correlate well with vascular age irrespective of chronological age and are plausible risk factors for coronary artery disease."
In other words, men who go grey or lose their hair somewhat prematurely appear to be showing signs of the ageing process at a faster-than-normal rate and their health can suffer accordingly.
The Indian study involved 790 men with heart problems and more than 1,000 other men who had no history of any major illnesses. As well as hypertension and obesity being higher in patients with CAD, the researchers found that rates of both premature greying and androgenetic alopecia were greater, too. In fact, male pattern baldness was the strongest predictor of CAD among young Indian men.
“It is an established fact that premature CAD is becoming more common in India with each passing day. We do not know the exact reasons behind this,” K. Sarat Chandra, MD, DM, president-elect of the Cardiological Society of India, said in the press release. “The present study suggesting that premature greying and male pattern baldness could be important risk factors goes a long way in our understanding of this riddle.”
Whether or not doctors will start seeing baldness in relatively young men as a warning sign for other diseases any time soon remains to be seen, but the evidence appears to be mounting. A recent study in Greece
found that men with genetic hairloss had significantly impaired coronary flow prompting GP Dr Tillmann Jacobi to write that because the signs of male pattern baldness
are so easy to see, “general practice is in a great position to offer preventive advice and early detection of asymptomatic risk factors.” He concluded that perhaps male pattern hair loss should be recategorised from a 'cosmetic issue' to a potential marker for underlying men's health issues.
Other studies which support the link between male pattern baldness and serious health problems have also been undertaken in Germany
and also in London
, with the latter study noting that stress may be a key factor. Further research in Turkey
supports this stress link.
Hair loss can be addressed
While these negative health issues signalled by a man losing his hair early cannot currently be undone though, as doctors note, steps may be considered to reduce the risk of some of these the hair thinning itself can generally be effectively addressed with a tailored men's hair loss treatment
These usually make use of one or both of the two clinically-proven drugs - finasteride 1mg and high strength minoxidil- which are able to inhibit production of the hormone dihydrotestosterone, or DHT
which causes gradually thinning hair
and/or a receding hairline in men with an active genetic predisposition and also encourage new hair regrowth.
This non-surgical option can be further supplemented with additional hair growth supporting products
products to further enhance their hair's recovery.
Anyone concerned about losing their hair should consult a hair loss specialist for a personal consultation and suitable treatment recommendations.