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16 February 2011
Early hair loss indicates increased prostate cancer risk
by George Atkinson

Those men who begin to lose their hair around the age of 20 are more likely to develop prostate cancer in later life, report scientists in the journal Annals of Oncology. The researchers compared 388 men being treated for prostate cancer with a control group of 281 healthy men and found that those with the disease were twice as likely as the healthy men to have started going bald when they were 20.

Importantly, if the men only started to lose their hair when they were 30 or 40, there was no difference in their risk of developing prostate cancer compared to the control group.

To date, there has been conflicting evidence about the link between balding and prostate cancer and this is the first study to suggest a link between going bald at the young age of 20 and the development of prostate cancer.

"We need a way of identifying those men who are at high risk of developing the disease and who could be targeted for screening and also considered for chemo-prevention using anti-androgenic drugs such as finasteride. Balding at the age of 20 may be one of these easily identifiable risk factors and more work needs to be done now to confirm this," said researcher Philippe Giraud, at the European Georges Pompidou Hospital in France.

Previous research had established a link between baldness and androgenic hormones, and androgens also play a role in the development and growth of prostate cancer. Finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone to an androgen called dihydrotestosterone, which is thought to cause hair loss, and the drug is used to treat the condition. It has also been shown to decrease the incidence of prostate cancer.

Although early hair loss may provide a handy signal of potential risk, the link between baldness and the development of prostate cancer is still unclear. "Further work should be done, both at the molecular level and with larger groups of men, to find the missing link between androgens, early balding and prostate cancer," said co-researcher Michael Yassa.

Related:
Testosterone And Baldness
Finger length indicates prostate risk
A Prostate Enlargement Primer
Risk Of Prostate Cancer May Be Inherited

Source: European Society for Medical Oncology




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