Losing the hair on your head might signal a problem below the belt: A specific pattern of baldness may raise your risk of prostate cancer, finds new research from the National Cancer Institute.
Here’s why you don’t have to freak out (yet)
In the study, men who reported noticing moderate balding along the front and the crown of their heads at age 45 had a 39 percent increased risk of developing aggressive prostate cancer years later compared to those with a full head of hair. But it’s important to note that only about 10 percent of the participants reported this particular kind of balding.
Other patterns—including the more common frontal-only recession—didn’t boost the risk. The researchers don’t have an explanation for the link, but they say it might be related to the male sex hormones testosterone and dihydrotestosterone, which appear to play a role in both male-pattern baldness and in prostate cancer. “We don’t know what underlies these particular patterns of baldness, but it could be that different hormonal profiles or different hormonal levels at different ages may cause slightly different variations,” says study author Michael Cook, Ph.D.
So if you’re balding around the front and crown of your head, should you be worried? Not yet, Cook says. That’s because this finding is still preliminary, and more research needs to be done to support it before it can factor into any clinical recommendations.