Study suggests link between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer

By Jesef Williams, UF Health Jacksonville • Published: December 3rd, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

It can be quite depressing for a man to realize he’s losing his hair. Male pattern baldness can negatively affect confidence and psyche and new research suggests that balding may also be tied to a serious health concern.

Investigators with the National Cancer Institute say that men with male pattern baldness may have a higher risk of developing an aggressive type of prostate cancer. The researchers’ findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

In the study, more than 39,000 men in the United States between 55 and 74 were interviewed over several years. They were all cancer-free at the time of the interviews and were asked to recall the state of their hair at age 45. About 18 percent of them said they had some form of male pattern baldness at that age.

During follow-ups several years later, more than one-thousand men in the study had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, with half of these men having an aggressive form of the cancer.

Investigators said that men who specifically had a receding front hairline with balding around the crown of the head were almost 40 percent more likely to develop an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

However, investigators said that a possible flaw in the study is that the participants may not have precisely remembered their level of baldness at 45. Also, nearly 90 percent of the men were white.

Although the study did not prove cause and effect, researchers have said that testosterone may be the common thread. Male pattern baldness is said to be a result of the way the skin processes testosterone, which also drives prostate cancer.

A co-author of the study said it’s a good idea for doctors to be mindful of this possible link to prostate cancer. The health of many men could hinge on it.