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Do Bald Men Face Higher Risk of Prostate Cancer?
Date:5/22/2012

By Barbara Bronson Gray
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 22 (HealthDay News) -- 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.

The U.S. National Cancer Institute estimates there will be more than 240,000 new cases of prostate cancer this year. The prevalence of baldness increases with age, and it affects about 40 million men in the United States.

The research was scheduled for presentation at a news conference Tuesday at the American Urological Association annual meeting in Atlanta.

The study involved 214 patients aged 59 to 70 years old with elevated prostate-specific antigen test numbers (averagin
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