April 4, 2013
Bald Men At Greater Risk Of Heart Disease Than Those With Full Head Of Hair
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Many men who are affected by a receding hairline often face psychological issues such as insecurity, rejection and depression. But balding men everywhere may have a much more worrisome issue to face other than just how they look. A new study published online in the journal BMJ Open, suggests men with severe male-pattern baldness are nearly twice as likely to develop coronary artery disease as those with a full head of hair.
Researchers from University of Tokyo in Japan found that men who lost their hair earlier in life were at the greatest risk, with those with the greatest amount of hair loss having the highest chance of developing heart disease. The researchers cautioned that this only applied to men whose hair loss occurred on top of the head, and not with those who are affected only by a receding hairline around the temples.
The Japanese study, which involved nearly 37,000 participants, found that balding men were 32 percent more likely to have heart disease than their fully haired peers. However, the researchers acknowledged that the risks were less than for other known factors.
Dr. Tomohide Yamada, of the University of Tokyo, told the BBC: "We found a significant, though modest, link between baldness, at least on the top of the head, and risk for coronary heart disease“¦ We thought this is a link, but not as strong as many other known links such as smoking, obesity, cholesterol levels and blood pressure."
The researchers pulled data from Medline and the Cochrane Library databases for their research, finding 850 possible studies on male pattern baldness, published between 1950 and 2012. But only six of these studies met the criteria for the Japanese research and were included in the analysis. All six of these studies had been published between 1993 and 2008.
In three of the studies, men were tracked for at least 11 years. In those studies, the researchers found that men who lost their hair were 32 percent more likely to develop heart disease, rising to 44 percent in those who became bald before the age of 60.
In the other three studies, which compared the health of balding men against those with all their hair, found that men with hair loss were 70 percent more likely to have heart disease, increasing to 84 percent in younger age groups who were balding.
Taking all six studies into account and averaging out the figures, the researchers found that extensive baldness on the crown increased heart disease risk by 48 percent, moderate baldness by 36 percent and mild baldness by 18 percent.
When the analysis was confined to men under the age of 60, the team found that balding men were 44 percent more likely to develop coronary heart disease.
The studies analyzed all assessed the degree of baldness using the Hamilton scale, a validated method in measuring male pattern baldness. The analysis of the results indicated that the risk of coronary artery disease depended on the severity of the baldness, but only if the hair loss was on the crown of the head. Men with receding hairlines showed no increased risk of heart disease.
The researchers assessed four different grades of baldness for the study: none, frontal, crown and combined.
Men with frontal and crown baldness were 69 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease than those with no hair loss. Those with only crown baldness were 52 percent more likely to have the disease; those with just frontal baldness were 22 percent more likely.
Although it remains unclear where the connection lies between baldness and coronary heart disease, the researchers suggest that baldness could be a symptom of an underlying condition which also causes heart disease such as insulin resistance, chronic inflammation or sensitivity to testosterone.
The researchers said their results showed that men with a balding crown should “probably be encouraged to improve their cardiovascular risk profile", especially if their baldness developed early.
Doireann Maddock, a cardiac nurse with the British Heart Foundation, said the results of the study were “interesting.” However, for men who are balding, or who have already gone bald, she said they “should not be alarmed by this analysis.”
"Much more research is needed to confirm any link between male pattern baldness and an increased risk of coronary heart disease. In the meantime, it's more important to pay attention to your waistline than your hairline,” Maddock told the BBC´s James Gallagher.