Prostate Cancer Linked to Male Patterned Baldness

Summary
Androgens are male hormones and they are implicated in the development of male pattern baldness and prostate cancer. This study attempted to find if there was a link between onset and pattern of baldness and prostate cancer. It was found that people becoming bald at the age of twenty were at higher risk of developing prostate cancer. However early-age baldness did not mean that these people developed prostate cancer at an early age or had an aggressive form of cancer. The pattern of baldness was not a useful predictor of prostate cancer.

Introduction
Male pattern baldness affects almost 50 percent of the male population over a lifetime. A direct link between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer has not been consistently proven. Most males develop baldness in middle-age, but some develop it early. It is also possible that men who develop baldness early in their life, may have cancer later on.  This study was aimed at finding whether baldness developed at an earlier age and if the pattern of hair loss was related to prostate cancer. It also studied whether previous generations (fathers) of people suffering from prostate cancer had early onset baldness.

Methodology
* A total of 669 subjects were included. The study group consisted of 388 prostate cancer patients and the control group consisted of 281 other patients without prostate cancer or hormonal pathologies.
* Participants answered a short questionnaire including history of prostate cancer, as well as a history of balding or prostate cancer in their father.
* Participants then indicated their balding pattern at ages 20, 30 and 40, according to a set of four pictures. These four pictures showed four progressive stages of baldness with hair loss beginning at the front of the scalp and involving the top of the head in advanced stages.
* Personal physicians of the participants provided additional information about subjects suffering from prostate cancer. The information included age at diagnosis, initial stage of disease, primary treatment received, last medical impression of disease, etc.

Results
* There was no difference between the occurrence of balding or prostate cancer in the fathers of both the case study group and the control group.
* Those who had stage II to IV balding at age 20 were twice as likely to develop prostate cancer as compared to the control group subjects.
* The pattern of hair loss (from the front of the scalp, from the top or both) was not useful in predicting development of cancer.
* Early onset baldness in subjects with prostatic cancer did not mean development of a tumor at a younger age or the development of a higher grade tumor, as compared to control group.

Shortcomings
This study depended on subjects with the mean age beyond 65 years who self reported their baldness and informed the physician about the onset pattern of hair loss. The exact personal memory for these events might be impaired, and data generated fromt his information might not be totally reliable. There are other risk factors for prostate cancer like African heritage or dietary differences. These were not considered in the current study.

Conclusion
Health education programs and screening of populations have been found to be ineffective measures in decreasing incidence of prostate cancer. Hence identifying people who may be at a higher risk of developing prostate cancer is important. This study showed that people who develop baldness at the age of 20 have a higher risk of developing prostate cancer later in life. This finding can be used to identify vulnerable population groups at higher risk. They can then be monitored in the future for early detection of prostate cancer. However, more research needs to be done before a concrete link between baldness and prostate cancer is established.

For More Information:
Male Pattern Baldness And Prostate Cancer Risk in a Population-Based Case-Control Study
Publication Journal: Annals of Oncology, February 2011
By M. Yassa; M. Saliou; European Georges Pompidou Hospital, Paris Descartes University, Paris, France

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.


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