Early Baldness Possible Indication of Later Prostate Cancer
The following is an abstract of an article published in Annals of Oncology, February 15, 2011.
Background: Androgens play a role in the development of both androgenic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness, and prostate cancer. We set out to study if early-onset androgenic alopecia was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer later in life.
Patients and methods: A total of 669 subjects (388 with a history of prostate cancer and 281 without) were enrolled in this study. All subjects were asked to score their balding pattern at ages 20, 30 and 40. Statistical comparison was subsequently done between both groups of patients.
Results: Our study revealed that patients with prostate cancer were twice as likely to have androgenic alopecia at age 20.
Conclusions: This study shows an association between early-onset androgenic alopecia and the development of prostate cancer. Whether this population can benefit from routine prostate cancer screening or systematic use of 5-alpha reductase inhibitors as primary prevention remains to be determined.
But read what Dr. Gerald Chodak says in an article in Medscape Today:
Indeed, this was not a truly representative group of men with prostate cancer who were being diagnosed but a very selective group of men who had higher-grade, higher-stage disease. Whether the findings would apply across all stages of the disease in all grades is totally unclear. This concern in many ways invalidates the conclusions that might be made about this study. Another concern is that the investigators didn't see any association between onset of baldness at age 30 or onset of baldness at age 40 and cancer incidence; the association was found only for the men with onset of baldness at age 20. In a retrospective analysis, the men reported on how much baldness they remember having, which would be appropriate if their survey instrument had been previously validated. However, at the end of the day, I do not believe that this study proves that men who experience onset of baldness at age 20 have a greater likelihood of developing prostate cancer.