Does early hair loss in males show prostate cancer risk?
A recent study conducted by Professor Philippe Giraud of the European Georges Pompidou Hospital in Paris, has found evidence to suggest that the age a male starts to lose his hair, may help in showing the potential risk for the development of prostate cancer. The study examined 669 men, of which 388 had previously had prostate cancer. A further 281 healthy, “control subjects” were also involved. The “mean” average age of those in the study was 65 years old and those with previous history of prostate cancer were found to have been diagnosed between the ages of 46 and 84. The subject’s who had experienced more extreme types of balding in their 20’s were discovered to have double the occurrence of the cancer than those who had not experienced hair loss until their 30’s and 40’s. The study authors are still undecided as to whether those males who experience hair loss at a youthful age will benefit from prostate cancer screenings. Dr Giraud commented “At present, there is no hard evidence to show any benefit from screening the general population for prostate cancer. We need a way of identifying those men who are at high risk of developing the disease”. However, Dr Giraud has identified that androgens (a male hormone) associated with hair loss, are also linked to prostate cancer. He and other researchers have called for extra studies to determine if any interventions may be appropriate for men with the early signs of balding. “Physicians need to know who could be targeted for screening and also considered for chemo-prevention using anti-androgenic drugs such as Propecia (finasteride).” The drug Propecia (finasteride) is commonly used to treat male pattern baldness and works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to an androgen thought to cause hair loss, and the drug has also been demonstrated to lower the incidence of prostate cancer. Dr Giraud further added, "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”.