Thiel: Early hair loss seen in some cancer patients

Hair loss in males is more than an unwanted inconvenience, according to a recent article in Annals of Oncology.

In a study published last month, French investigators found men in their 60s with prostate cancer reported hair loss beginning in their 20s, twice as often as their cancer-free counterparts.

Essentially, men in their late 60s who began losing their hair in their 20s were twice as likely to have prostate cancer.  They found that male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, demonstrated the high correlation with prostate cancer, where as a receding hairline did not.

Investigators wrote: “An improved knowledge of risk factors, especially those that are easily identifiable in the patient, may allow us to target a population at risk of developing prostate cancer and that may benefit from screening…”

The lead researcher, Dr. Michael Yassa, of the University of Montréal, stated: “I think further research should focus on finding the exact link between hair loss, androgens and prostate cancer and what exactly links those three together”.

In this study, investigators examined 380 prostate cancer patients in Paris and Toulouse, France. Those studied were at an average age of 66 years. These individuals were asked to recollect their balding patterns. The investigators found that any balding at 20 years, but not 30 or 40 was associated with increased prostate cancer correlation later in life.

Interestingly enough, there was no significant association between the pattern of hair loss, be it more to the front, top or the side of the head, and the development of prostate cancer later in life.

When one studies the statistics of incidents and outcomes of prostate cancer in Canadian males one will find that 25,000 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year and 4,300 men will die of the disease this year.

Prostate cancer will affect one in six men and it is the most common cancer to affect Canadian males.

Rates of prostate cancer in men are comparable to rates of breast cancer in women.

The incidence of prostate cancer is increasing due to an aging population. Over 90 per cent of prostate cancer cases are curable if detected in the early stages.

The disease is far more prevalent in men who have a family history of prostate cancer. In its early stages, the disease has no symptoms and this is why a prostate exam, in conjunction with PSA levels, are retaken routinely.

The authors of the study did not say because you have early pattern baldness in your 20s, you will contract prostate cancer. They simply stated that it may be a sign they want to pay attention to as they age. This is especially true if there’s a history of prostate cancer within your family.