In a study entitled “Relationship Between Male Pattern Baldness and the Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer: An Analysis of the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial”, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, researchers from the National Cancer Institute discovered that frontal along with moderate top baldness at age 45 years is associated with an increased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Even though previous studies have found common pathophysiologic mechanisms between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer, results have been inconsistent so far.
In this study, the team designed a large, prospective cohort trial, called the Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian (PLCO) Cancer Screening Trial. From the total patient cohort, 39,070 men who had no cancer diagnosis at the start of follow-up and recalled their hair-loss patterns at age 45 years were included, to investigate the link between male pattern baldness at this age with risks of overall and subtypes of prostate cancer.
Throughout the study 1,138 men developed prostate cancer with half of them diagnosed as aggressive, or fast-growing, tumors.
All men were asked to indicate their level of hair loss at age 45, with responses revealing that men who were balding in the front and moderately on the crown of their head faced a 39% higher risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer throughout the study, compared with men who did not suffer from hair loss until that age.
The scientific explanation behind these observations might be related to testosterone and its metabolite, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), known to play key roles in both balding and prostate tumor development.
“Male hormones, or androgens, are associated with male pattern baldness, as well as prostate organ development and maturation and prostate cancer progression,” lead study author Michael Cook said in a Yahoo Health interview.
Male baldness can function as a measure of androgen exposure in men, since it is associated with higher levels of male hormones.
More than determining a fatal occurrence later in life, male baldness could be used as a visual signal to help doctors discuss with male patients the possibility of prostate-cancer screening.
“We need to replicate these results in a strong study, maybe with multiple time points for male pattern baldness and at multiple ages. If this association is replicated by high-quality studies — and if we understand the mechanism that underlies this — then in the future, it’s possible that male pattern baldness may contribute a small amount of information in predicting prostate cancer risk,” Dr. Cook concluded in his interview.