Male pattern baldness and the risk of prostate cancer

Annals of Oncology

Background: Androgens play a role in the development of both androgenic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness, and prostate cancer. We set out to study if early-onset androgenic alopecia was associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer later in life.

Patients and methods: A total of 669 subjects (388 with a history of prostate cancer and 281 without) were enrolled in this study. All subjects were asked to score their balding pattern at ages 20, 30 and 40. Statistical comparison was subsequently done between both groups of patients.

Results: Our study revealed that patients with prostate cancer were twice as likely to have androgenic alopecia at age 20 [odds ratio (OR) 2.01, P = 0.0285]. The pattern of hair loss was not a predictive factor for the development of cancer. There was no association between early-onset alopecia and an earlier diagnosis of prostate cancer or with the development of more aggressive tumors.

Conclusions: This study shows an association between early-onset androgenic alopecia and the development of prostate cancer. Whether this population can benefit from routine prostate cancer screening or systematic use of 5-alpha reductase inhibitors as primary prevention remains to be determined.

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