In the latest piece of health news, a study has found an unfortunate risk factor for prostate cancer. It seems that men who start to lose hair at the age of 20 are more likely to develop prostate cancer in later life. Understanding this is important, because these men could be screened for the disease earlier and should keep watch for symptoms.
It is published in the “Annals of Oncology.” The study compared 388 men being treated for prostate cancer with a control group of 281 healthy men. It found that those with the disease were twice as likely as the healthy men to have started going bald when they were 20. But there was no perceived risk for men who started losing their hair around the ages of 30 and 40. An earlier receding hairline did not mean an earlier diagnosis of prostate cancer, just that the risk seemed to rise later in life.
Up to now, there has been conflicting evidence about the link between balding and prostate cancer. This one shows a link between baldness at the young age of 20 and the development of prostate cancer in later life.
Scientists don’t believe the general population needs to be screened for prostate cancer — only those who are at high risk of the disease. So identifying risk factors such as this is increasingly important. These men could take many cancer-preventative measures, including drugs if need be. They believe balding at the age of 20 could be one of these easily identifiable risk factors.
“Androgenic alopecia” (a.k.a. male pattern baldness) affects half of men throughout their lifetime. There is a link between baldness and androgenic hormones — and androgens also play a role in how prostate cancer develops. A drug used to treat hair loss has also been shown to lower rates of prostate cancer.
Researchers had men answer a questionnaire about history of prostate cancer and indicate on four pictures any balding patterns that they had at ages 20, 30 and 40. There were varying degrees of hair loss. The study ran for 28 months. The men with prostate cancer were diagnosed with the disease between the ages of 46 and 84.
The information revealed that any balding was associated with double the risk of prostate cancer later in life. This trend was lost at ages 30 and 40. They could not find any specific link between types of hair loss and the development of cancer, however. They think further research should be done to help fight the battle against prostate cancer.
For now, knowledge is power for men.