According to the latest study, men with patchy baldness at the crown or frontal-mid scalp at the age of 45 are more likely to suffer from aggressive prostate cancer as compared to those with heads full of hair. It was published online in the Journal of Clinical Oncology on 15th September, 2014.
The study was conducted by the National Cancer Institute involving more than 39,000 US men aged 55-74. The researchers performed Lung, Prostate, Ovarian and Colorectal Cancer Screening Trial on these men. In the beginning, none of them were suffering from cancer. The researchers showed them the various patterns and stages of balding and asked to identify their hair-loss pattern at age 45. After a gap of 2.78 years, the researchers followed up with these men. They discovered that 1,138 out of 39,000 men became a victim of prostate cancer. Among them, 571 were already in the aggressive or Stage 3 of the disease. The researchers come to the conclusion that 45-years old people with frontal plus moderate vertex baldness are doomed to suffer from aggressive prostate cancer.
Dr. Michael Cook, the senior study author and investigator in the Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the National Cancer Institute said, ‘it’s no co-incidence that early baldness is related to prostate cancer.’ How early baldness is related to prostate cancer is not exactly known, but the researchers are of the opinion that the change in hormonal levels trigger both.
It’s a long known fact that Testosterone acts on many tissues. But, it works even more badly when it is converted into Dihydrotestosterone or DHT. DHT causes the hairs to fall out of the scalp, sometimes leading to Androgenic Alopecia or male-pattern baldness. Unluckily, it’s not the only thing where DHT shows its potentiality (in a negative sense) but also leads to the prostate cells growth.
However, Dr. Charles Ryan, an associate clinical professor of the Department of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco believes that the testosterone is not the driving force behind prostate cancer, but instead it’s the skin’s ability to process the hormone.
Interestingly, the study failed to establish any connection between severe balding and prostate cancer. It may have happened because the study included very few men suffering from severe baldness. As such, it limits the ability of the study to detect a relation between the two.
Further studies are required on the topic to unveil the complicated causes of these conditions. Dr. Cook said, “The outcomes are too tentative and I don’t think that the study today is practice-changing.” He opined that the bald men don’t have to worry about the disease. It was conducted by completely depending on the patients’ memories of their own balding experiences. Therefore, the study may not have given the exact result.
The researchers are optimistic that one day the male pattern baldness would be used as an indicator for prostate cancer risk. At present, the results of the study are in a very controversial stage.
Till date, most men of a certain age group were offered screening through a blood test for a protein -PSA or prostate specific antigen that can be raised in the setting of prostate cancer.
For many reasons, the emphasis on the need to undergo a PSA screening has now shifted to the discussion about pros and cons of the approach. PSA screening might be a good option for patient with increased prostate cancer risk. With further validation of the test, the hair loss patterns will further add fuel to the discussion.