Prostate cancer typically strikes males over the age of 50, the majority being over the age of 65. Currently, prostate cancer is monitored through regular testing of PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood levels and physical exams. A recent French study indicated that the age a man loses his hair may give extra information in determining the man’s risk for developing prostate cancer.
The study, lead by Professor Philippe Giraud (M.D., PhD) published February, 2011 in the Annals of Oncology, found that men who had more severe types of balding in their 20’s had double the incidence of prostate cancer than those who developed hair loss later during their 30’s and 40’s.
A total of 669 men were enrolled--388 with a history of prostate cancer and 281 without who served as the control subjects. The men filled out questionnaires reviewing their history of prostate cancer and the age they developed one of the four types of progressive balding patterns pictured in the packet.
The mean age of the participants was 65 years old. The men who had prostate cancer were diagnosed between the ages of 46 and 84 years of age
Male pattern baldness, called androgenic alopecia, affects over 50 percent of men. Previous studies have shown that baldness and androgen hormones such as testosterone are related and that androgenic hormones play a role in the development of prostate cancer. Prior studies have not consistently shown a connection between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer.
The researchers expressed that further testing of the relationship of hair loss and prostate cancer is needed. There is a connection between hair loss, androgen levels and prostate cancer but specifics of how to use the knowledge of early hair loss, as a screening tool has yet to be determined.
Giraud expressed that one possible scenario would be that doctors to could screen patients who would benefit from use of “chemo-prevention using anti-androgenic drugs such as finasteride." Finasteride is used to treat baldness but also has been found to reduce the incidence of prostate cancer. (medicine.net)
If you are the wife of a man or the mother of a son who has lost a significant amount of their hair in their 20’s, it might be worth noting that based on this study that their early balding could be an indicator of increased risk of developing prostate cancer later in life. Fortunately, prostate cancer is a slow growing cancer so with regular screening, it can be caught early to allow for prompt treatments decisions.
Losing Hair at 20 Is Linked to Increased Risk of Prostate Cancer in Later Life, Study Finds www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110215191136.htm
Could Hair Loss at 20 Signal Higher Prostate Cancer Risk?
Treatment Options for Prostate Cancer: Evaluating the Evidence
Male pattern baldness and the risk of prostate cancer
M. Yassa, M. Saliou, Y. De Rycke, C. Hemery, M. Henni, J. M. Bachaud, N. Thiounn, J. M. Cosset and P.Giraud,
Edited by Alison Stanton
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s health care and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles