Testosterone is known largely as the “male hormone.” It’s associated with a man’s hair, voice, sex drive, muscularity—for all intents and purposes, his manhood. It’s also, however, a hormone that is linked to a couple of conditions that make most men cringe.
New research is indicating that male pattern baldness might be an early indication of a man’s risk for an aggressive form of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is also closely associated with testosterone levels, but the link between aggressive prostate cancer and male pattern baldness is unclear and loose at best.
Male pattern baldness affects countless men and it can start as early as their teenage years in some. It’s quite common and is evident in men who have hairline recession at the left and right sides of the upper forehead. It can also appear in another form, as the hairline comes back from the upper forehead and around the top part of the back of the head, or the crown. Most men fear the day when it begins or becomes noticeable, but these patterns of baldness are extremely common. The baldness is tied to an inability of the skin to process testosterone and over time, it begins to take its toll.
Researchers followed 40,000 American men, aged 55–74 between 1993 and 2001. They were asked to remember their hairline at age 45 and were then monitored for prostate cancer. Over the trial period, 1,100 participants were diagnosed with prostate cancer, 600 of which were aggressive cases of prostate cancer. They found that men who recalled having male pattern baldness in their mid-forties were 39% more likely to acquire the aggressive form of prostate cancer.
In my opinion, the link is nothing to worry about. This study wasn’t very well done and does not prove a definitive cause and effect relationship. So if you’re experiencing male pattern baldness, don’t think you’re automatically a candidate for an aggressive form of prostate cancer. For starters, researchers asked participants to recall what they thought their hairline was like at least 10 years earlier. A person’s memory isn’t something to go by when you’re conducting a scientific experiment. At this point, the connection is very loose and the results should not cause alarm.
Regardless of whether you’re balding or not, it’s important to have your prostate checked whenever you go to the doctor. Going annually or semi-annually is usually enough to keep on top of any developments. However, if you’re having trouble emptying your bladder, are urinating at a very slow rate, or are experiencing leaks or pain in the area, get to a doctor. It might not be prostate cancer, but it’s always good to be safe. Keeping your doctor informed of any changes in your health or body’s functions is the best way to catch any condition early, offering the best chance for successful treatment.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Zhou, C., et al., “Relationship between male pattern baldness and the risk of aggressive colorectal cancer: An analysis of the prostate, lung, colorectal, and ovarian cancer screening trial,” Journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology September 15, 2014, doi: 10.1200/JCO.2014.55.4279.
Dotinga, R., “Male Pattern Baldness Tied to Prostate Cancer,” WebMd web site, September 15, 2014; http://www.webmd.com/prostate-cancer/news/20140915/male-pattern-baldness-tied-to-prostate-cancer-study-suggests, last accessed September 20, 2014.