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Male Pattern Baldness Linked to Colon Cancer

This is a reprint of a MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Nana Keum, PhD
Department of Nutrition
Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Boston, MA

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Keum: Male pattern baldness, the most common type of hair loss in men, is positively associated with androgens as well as IGF-1 and insulin, all of which are implicated in pathogenesis of colorectal neoplasia.  Therefore, it is biologically plausible that male pattern baldness, as a marker of underlying aberration in the regulation of the aforementioned hormones, may be associated with colorectal neoplasia.  In our study that examined the relationship between five male hair pattern at age 45 years (no-baldness, frontal-only-baldness, frontal-plus-mild-vertex-baldness, frontal-plus-moderate-vertex-baldness, and frontal-plus-severe-vertex-baldness) and the risk of colorectal adenoma and cancer, we found that frontal-only-baldness and frontal-plus-mild-vertex-baldness were associated with approximately 30% increased risk of colon cancer relative to no-baldness.  Frontal-only-baldness was also positively associated with colorectal adenoma.

 

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Keum: While the relationship between male pattern baldness and prostate cancer risk has been widely examined, to our knowledge, this study represents the first to report a potential relationship between male pattern baldness and the risk of colorectal neoplasia.  Thus, our findings should be confirmed in other studies before making definite clinical recommendations.  Yet, in the meantime, it may be prudent for males with frontal-only-baldness or frontal-plus-mild-vertex-baldness at age 45 years, although their elevated risk is modest, to consult physicians about colonoscopy screening guidelines.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Keum: To better understand etiologic mechanism linking male pattern baldness to colorectal neoplasia, future studies are warranted to examine the association of sex hormones, IGFs, and insulin in relation to subtypes of male pattern baldness.

Citation:

Br J Cancer. 2016 Jan 12;114(1):110-7. doi: 10.1038/bjc.2015.438.

Male pattern baldness and risk of colorectal neoplasia.

Keum N1,2, Cao Y1,2, Lee DH1,2, Park SM3, Rosner B4, Fuchs CS5, Wu K1, Giovannucci EL1

 

Hair is often an important outward sign of internal health and hair loss conditions are often associated, exacerbated or triggered by medical conditions. In this recent study we see the first published correlation between subtypes of hereditary male pattern baldness and the appearance of and increased risk of neoplastic colon polyps or colon cancer. --Dr. Alan Bauman

 

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