Baldness and Prostate Cancer: Is There A Link?
Male pattern baldness and prostate cancer might share similar pathophysiological mechanisms in terms of heritability and endogenous hormones. Heritable factors contribute to approximately 42% of prostate cancer risk and 81% of male pattern baldness. Androgenic action plays an integral role in both hair loss and prostate cancer progression; both hair follicles and the prostate gland are androgen responsive. Male pattern baldness might be a marker of long-term androgen exposure and thus could be useful in aiding our understanding of prostate cancer etiology.
While prior studies of male pattern baldness in relation to prostate cancer risks have been inconsistent in the methods used and the conclusions drawn, clinical observations and laboratory studies support a link between the two. A recent study used the unique resource of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) Epidemiologic Follow-up Study (NHEFS), which has the major advantage of data on dermatologically assessed baldness at baseline, to investigate the relationship between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer–specific mortality.
The results showed that any baldness was significantly associated with a 56% higher risk of prostate cancer¬–specific mortality compared with no balding. The greatest specific risk was conferred by moderate balding, which was associated with an 83% higher risk. The results support the hypothesis of overlapping pathophysiological mechanisms in the 2 conditions. However, the authors note that moderate association and relatively high prevalence of male pattern baldness in Western populations does not currently support the use of male pattern baldness in prostate cancer screening decisions.
Byline: Martha L. Sikes, MS, RPh, PA-C
Posted: April 13, 2016
Source: American Journal of Epidemiology
Adapted from the original article.
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