A novel study conducted in France recently evaluated the potential link between androgenic alopecia and prostate cancer risk. Current estimates posit that over 50% of men will experience androgenic alopecia during their lifetime. Until now, evidence has been conflicting regarding this potential association. A case-control study of 669 subjects (388 with a history of prostate cancer and 281 without) found that patients with prostate cancer were twice as likely to have androgenic alopecia at age 20 [odds ratio (OR) 2.01], yet the specific pattern of hair loss was not determined to be a predictor of hair loss. Moreover, there was no association found between early-onset alopecia and an earlier diagnosis of prostate cancer, or with the development of more aggressive prostate cancer tumors.
The authors admit the possibility of selective recall bias in this study, yet retrospective self-reporting of male balding patterns has been validated across previous studies. As androgenic alopecia can impact self-perception, it was felt that since most men remember developing baldness at an early age. Similarly, the authors did not control for increased risk factors of prostate cancer including African heritage, yet family history was stratified in both case subjects and controls.
Data is abundant with regard to aging men and androgenic alopecia as well as the development of prostate cancer. To date, there is no statistical evidence to support a direct cause-and-effect relationship between alopecia and the development of prostate cancer at any age. As with previous studies, this is retrospective study cannot prove a direct causal relationship. Future research will focus on the identification of specific genetic markers to prove such a relationship.
Reference: Yassa M, Saliou M, De Rycke Y, et al. Male pattern baldness and the risk of prostate cancer. Annals of Oncology, February 2011.