All men are at risk for the development of prostate cancer as they age. In fact, some 160,000 American males will be diagnosed with this form of cancer in the coming year alone. About 26,000 men will die from the disease. While simply being a man is one of the biggest risk factors for this form of cancer, there is a long list of other risks, including ethnicity, family history, and age. Researchers now say that early balding might need to be added to the roundup of potential risk factors.
A recent study shed light on the potential prognostic value a man’s head may hold for the eventual development of prostate cancer. The researchers found that men who start going bald at a young age and lost hair in a rapid fashion are more inclined to develop this form of cancer later in life. The actual loss of hair, however, isn’t believed to be the factor driving increased risk. Rather, researchers say it has to do with high levels of hormones that have been linked to baldness. These same hormones are also believed to play a role in prostate cancer development.
The study in question involved a survey of about 400 men who were screened for prostate cancer. About 50 percent of the men were diagnosed with the disease. Researchers found that men who had experienced moderate balding were roughly three times more likely to have malignant tumors than their hairier counterparts. Men who had experienced severe balding earlier in life were found to be three times more likely to have an aggressive form of prostate cancer.
Whether other studies will support a link between balding and increase prostate cancer risk remains to be seen. In the meantime, men who are concerned about prostate cancer can help themselves by talking to their doctors about early screening. Since all men are at risk as they age, this is a conversation all men should have with their doctors.