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Prostate Cancer Linked To Early Balding?

February 16, 2011

Researchers in France compared 388 men being treated for prostate cancer with 281 healthy men finding that those with the disease were twice as likely as the healthy men to have started losing their hair when they were 20. The study, released on Tuesday suggests they might benefit from early screening or preventative therapy, scientists told Reuters.

Men going bald when they were 30 or 40, showed no difference in their risk of developing prostate cancer compared to the healthy group. “At present there is no hard evidence to show any benefit from screening the general population for prostate cancer. We need a way of identifying those men who are at high risk,” said Philippe Giraud of Paris Descartes University, who led the study.

Giraud finding, published in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology, said men identified as at higher risk of prostate cancer could be selected for earlier screening, or for chemo-prevention therapy using so-called anti-androgenic drugs like Merck’s Proscar, or finasteride.

“Balding at the age of 20 may be one of these easily identifiable risk factors and more work needs to be done now to confirm this,” Giraud claims.

Finasteride treats both prostate enlargement symptoms and baldness by blocking the conversion of testosterone to an androgen hormone called dihydrotestosterone, which is thought to cause hair loss.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men after lung cancer and kills an estimated 255,000 men each year. Androgenic alopecia, also known as male pattern baldness, affects around 50 percent of men in their lifetime. Studies have long established links between baldness and androgenic hormones. Androgens are known to play a role in the development and growth of prostate cancer.

The doctors of the study subjects provided patients’ medical histories, including any diagnosis of prostate cancer, age at diagnosis and stage of the disease and treatment.

“The data revealed that any balding at stages II-IV was associated with double the risk of prostate cancer later in life. This trend was lost at ages 30 and 40,” Yassa told Reuters. “Further work should be done, both at the molecular level and with larger groups of men, to find the missing link between androgens, early balding and prostate cancer.”

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