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Do bald men face higher risk of prostate cancer?

Paul Maguire

Got hair? If you don't, you might have a higher risk of prostate cancer, a preliminary study suggests.

Researchers are reporting that bald men who underwent biopsies of the prostate were more likely to have cancer than were those with more hair on their heads.

"Bald men should be aware that they may benefit from being screened earlier and perhaps, if necessary, from being biopsied sooner," said study author Dr. Neil Fleshner, a professor of surgical urology at the University of Toronto. "In the study, the more bald people were, the more likely they were to have prostate cancer. We're 95 percent sure this is real."

However, not all doctors are ready to embrace the study's conclusions.

The possible association between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer has been considered in previous studies.

Although the precise mechanism isn't understood, researchers think male hormones known as androgens may play a role in both baldness and prostate cancer. Androgens, which include testosterone, can inhibit hair growth and trigger the development of prostate cells.

It's thought that the androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT) increases in bald men, causing the hair follicles to shrink gradually. As the follicles get smaller, the hair weakens and eventually stops growing. DHT also has been implicated in the development of prostate cancer.

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