Baldness May Be More than Skin Deep
The tenth study of its kind shows that male pattern baldness may be an indicator for enlarged prostate and prostate cancer.
When my surgeon first told me that my disease was metastatic and outlined the list of negative side effects that could go along with my androgen deprivation therapy (the blockage of testosterone production), I already knew the list from my work at the Foundation. Thus he was a bit surprised when, asked if I had any questions, I enthusiastically asked: So, I can expect to grow some of the hair on head back, right?
He asked how I knew that might be one positive side effect. I told him that I had started losing my crown of follicles in my mid-thirties and had been using Rogaine to mitigate my losses and actually regain some of what I had lost many years back. I also said that unlike many, I actually read the packaging inserts and understood the role of testosterone and something called dihydrotesterone in the balding process. Rogaine works by acting against the balding action of dihydrotesterone.
Little did I know then…
Now, mounting evidence suggests that male baldness by the age of 40 can be an indicator for increased risk for being diagnosed with an enlarged prostate (benign hyperplasia) or prostate cancer. The reason: high levels of testosterone create high levels of dihydrotestosterone, causing male pattern baldness. High levels of testosterone can also affect prostate stem cells in men’s late teens and early twenties, turning them into future cancer cells, and fuel the growth and progression of prostate cancer.
With all the television ads for testosterone replacement drugs that are now on the television you might remember hearing the required list warnings: “Taking X may increase your risk of prostate cancer or an enlarged prostate… Do not take X if currently have prostate cancer… Talk to your doctor before taking X if you have a family history of prostate cancer…”
In the tenth study focusing on baldness, the Cancer Center in Victoria, Australia monitored 9,448 men in a long-term health study. The results, published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, showed that men, mostly bald by 40, were significantly more likely to develop early-onset cancer, many of them in their fifties or sixties. They were also more likely to be diagnosed with a tumor upon biopsy. Other studies have shown that bald men are also at higher risk for having an enlarged prostate.
I share this as a data point for discussion for men over 40 as they discuss PSA and make an informed decision as to when they should begin using the PSA test.
For me, that ship has long left the dock. But, as I wean off my ADT using Lurpon, I have already started using Rogaine once again. Knowing what I learned about the cause of male hair loss, I hope to have a jump start on keeping some of the hair I gained during treatment.
Of course in the grand scheme of things, the battle to keep hair would be an easy one to lose. Que sera, sera… I’m still ahead in the primary fight and that’s a good thing.