An acceptance of baldness is a tough road for most men, but now new evidence finds that hair loss might be a signal that your body is at higher risk of dangerous prostate cancer. As if losing your hair wasn’t enough? Sadly, some recent research finds a link between baldness and cancer with bald men having a higher risk of prostate cancer than those who hold onto their hair.
That means earlier screening for men who are bald suggests study lead author Dr. Neil Fleshner who is also a professor of surgical urology at the University of Toronto. What’s even more discouraging for the man losing his hair, in the study the more bald a man was, the more likely he was to have a positive prostate cancer biopsy. It seems impossibly unfair.
Though the mechanism isn’t fully understood, experts think a male hormone known as androgen is involved in both male hair loss and prostate cancer. One kind of androgen is testosterone, known to be able to inhibit the growth of hair and trigger the development of cells in the prostate. A specific androgen, dihydrotestosterone (DHT) goes up in bald men, causing hair follicles to gradually shrink in size. As the hair follicles get smaller, the hair gets weaker and after a while stops growing altogether.
It’s fascinating that androgen DHT has also been implicated in prostate cancer development.
The research on balding and prostate cancer included 214 patients who were from 59 to 70 years old and who also had elevated prostate-specific antigen test results (an average of 5.8) and been referred for biopsy. How bald they were was assessed using a four-point scale:
1. Just in front.
2. Just a bit on top.
3. Moderate top and sides.
4. Severe top and sides.
The team found that more severe the balding pattern in the men, the more likely it would be that the biopsy would be positive. Important to understand that men with a normal PSA weren’t part of the study, and the findings only point out an association between lack of hair and prostate cancer. Baldness does not cause prostate cancer, nor does this form of cancer cause hair loss.
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Bad News: Bald Men Face Higher Risk Of Prostate Cancer… Continued…
The study team also looked at if there was a relationship between the length of a man’s index and ring finger and a diagnosis of prostate cancer. Surprisingly this was a question raised by earlier research. However, there was no association between finger length and prostate cancer found in this research.
The study was presented at the 2012 American Urological Association meeting held in Atlanta. While men wait for more work to be done on the link between baldness and cancer you should be aggressive about screenings for prostate cancer. These include both the digital rectal exam and the PSA (prostate specific antigen) test, a blood test that measures the amount of this substance in the blood.
This year alone 240,000 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute figures. It is the second most common cancer in men. We know that baldness is more likely as a man ages, and currently is an inescapable part of life for 40 million men in the U.S.