Is Early Balding Linked to Prostate Cancer?
Study Suggests Men Who Are Bald at Young Age May Have Risk for Prostate Cancer
Losing Hair Early in Life continued...
It is believed that the androgen dihydrotesterone (DHT), which is a product of the male hormone testosterone, is produced in high amounts in genetically susceptible men. At these high levels DHT appears to cause the hair follicles to shrink over time, causing the hair to become weak and, eventually, stop growing.
DHT has also been implicated in the development and growth of prostate cancer.
The drug Propecia blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT. Several widely publicized studies also suggest that it may prevent prostate cancer in high-risk men.
Debate About Prostate Cancer Screening
In an effort to better understand the DHT connection, Yassa and colleagues from France’s European Georges Pompidou Hospital asked close to 400 prostate cancer patients and around 400 men without the disease about their balding history.
A total of 37 participants with a history of prostate cancer and 14 participants without reported some degree of balding by the age of 20, including receding hairline and/or thinning of the hair on top of the head.
Yassa says the research could help identify men who might benefit from prostate cancer screening.
“There is a huge debate right now about who should be screened and whether screening is appropriate for the general population,” he says, adding that men with early balding may be good candidates for screening.
But Brooks is not convinced.
“There is really nothing here that should alter the recommendation of the American Cancer Society and other groups that men should learn all they can about the potential risks and benefits of prostate cancer screening and then make a decision about whether or not to be screened,” he says.
American Cancer Society Chief Medical Officer Otis Brawley, MD, agrees.
“We have not moved beyond speculation at this point,” he tells WebMD. “There is no reason for bald men to obsess about this.”