Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Study: Balding in 20s May be Early Sign of Prostate Cancer

Men who experience balding in their 20s may be twice as likely to get prostate cancer later in life, according to a new study.

The study, published this week in the journal Annals of Oncology, suggests that early hair loss could be used to select men for prostate screening. The study didn't report any link between between hair loss later in life and risk for cancer.

Male pattern baldness, or androgenic alopecia, is very common and affects 50 percent of men at some point in their lives, and some as early as their 20s.

Previous studies linked its onset to the conversion of testosterone to androgenic hormones, similarly, androgens have been implicated in the onset and growth of prostate cancer.

The drug finasteride, currently used to treat baldness, blocks the conversion of testosterone to an androgen thought to cause hair loss. Studies have also shown the drug to be successful at lowering the incidence of prostate cancer.

Further studies will be conducted to see if screenings might be appropriate for men with very early balding - but the research team warns that it is still too premature to conclude that early balding and prostate cancer are linked.