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by Robert MacKay, Thursday, February 17, 2011 | Categories: Hair loss

A recent study published in the Annals of Oncology shows that men who lose their hair early (in their 20s) are more at risk of prostate cancer than others. Evidence suggests that men who lose hair in their thirties and forties are not considered at as high a risk.

The study observed 388 men with prostate cancer who were being treated. A further 281 men with no prostate cancer participated in the study and both groups were examined for a period of 28 months. Men with prostate cancer were x2 as likely to lose their hair at 20 years as men without the cancer. Unfortunately there was no relationship between early hair loss and early detection and there was no link between the pattern of loss and the cancer development.

The author of the study raises concern over the lack of prostate cancer screening services and reminds us that the NHS decided not to introduce a general screening programme for prostate cancer last year. Doctors wanted a way of identifying men who were more at risk than others. The author suggests that if a man is losing hair at 20, he should have a PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) test before his fifties.

Considering that baldness in men has been linked to androgenic hormones, the hormones which have previously been linked to prostate cancer, it seems likely that there is a relationship here between early hair loss and prostate cancer. Hair loss medication has for years been associated with prostate cancer prevention because the drugs stop the conversion of testosterone to the hair loss causing androgen, dihydratestosterone.

The study was not large enough to draw concrete associations between early hair loss and the development of prostate cancer but prostate cancer is genetic and this should be the first identifier for screening. Men who have had an uncle, brother or father with prostate cancer are two and a half to three times more likely to experience prostate cancer than others without such a background. Interestingly, early male pattern hair loss is down to genetics too.

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