Baldness could signal prostate cancer for black men

By Shayna Brouker • Published: June 6th, 2013
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Baldness could be more than a vanity issue if you’re a black male – it could signal a real health risk. You may want to be a little extra vigilant when it comes to screening for prostate cancer. A new study of more than 500 black men from the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics found that those who become bald by the age of 30 are more likely to develop prostate cancer.

The study, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, took a closer look at science’s suspicion that there could be a link between baldness and prostate cancer. Black American men suffer from prostate cancer more often than any others and are more than twice as likely to die from it. Researchers asked men about their baldness patterns and found that those with some baldness before 30 were 70 percent more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer — especially if the front part of their heads was bare. Frontal baldness was also associated with other aggressive cancers.

Association doesn’t signal causation, but what’s behind the connection between bearing a bare scalp and getting prostate cancer? More research is needed, but scientists think it has something to do with androgens, or male hormones. An increase in the hormone dihydrotestosterone (die-hydro-testosterone), or D-H-T, escalates prostate cancer risk, and is also related to thinning of the hair.

Symptoms of prostate cancer include frequent, painful urination, especially at night; trouble starting or stopping urination; weak or sporadic urinary stream; and blood in urine. Don’t be one of the more than 29,000 men who will die of prostate cancer this year. If you experience any of these symptoms, and especially if your hair seems to have lost its luster, talk to a doctor.