The People's Perspective on Medicine

Bald Men at Higher Risk of Aggressive Prostate Cancer

Male pattern balding in a horseshoe pattern is associated with a greater risk of aggressive prostate cancer in later years.
Bald

Men with male pattern baldness may be at higher risk for aggressive prostate cancer. That’s the finding from a study of nearly 40,000 men published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The researchers analyzed data from the U.S. Prostate, Lung, Colorectal and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial. The volunteers, enrolled between age 55 and 74 were asked to describe their hair loss at age 45. During follow-up more than 1,100 men developed prostate cancer with 571 men diagnosed with aggressive tumors.

There was an association between aggressive prostate cancer and hair thinning both on the forehead and the crown of the head. Men with that type of hair loss were 40 percent more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive prostate cancer during the follow-up period.

One explanation is that both male pattern baldness and advanced prostate cancer are likely to be driven by testosterone and its metabolites. This was an epidemiological analysis, and does not prove cause and effect. Nevertheless, men with this type of male pattern baldness may want to discuss their risk of prostate cancer with a health care provider.

[Journal of Clinical Oncology,online Sept. 15, 2014]

An epidemiological association like this can be difficult to interpret, and from The People’s Pharmacy perspective, that is true of this study. Nonetheless, men who have this pattern of balding should stay in touch with their health care providers to determine when and how screening for prostate cancer might be appropriate for them.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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