Balding and Heart Attack Risk
Most men who experience significant hair loss are none too pleased about it. The thriving business done by the hair-replacement industry attests to many men's discomfort with going bald. But now, new research suggests that balding may be much more than just a cosmetically unappealing problem. In fact, a man who is losing his hair appears to have a substantially greater heart attack risk…and, it seems, where that balding is taking place affects the degree of risk.
The study, which was conducted at the University of Tokyo in Japan, compiled information from six independent studies.1 There were a total of 36,990 men participating in all of this combined research. The scientists analyzed the gathered data to compare the rates of baldness with those of cardiovascular disease and found a significant association. Balding men were shown to have a greater risk of heart disease and--to add insult to injury--their heart attack risk increases with more substantial balding.
The subjects whose hair loss was concentrated mainly at the top of the head, known as vertex baldness, had a 52 percent higher chance of having a heart attack than their peers with full heads of hair. Those with hair loss mainly at the front and temples, otherwise known as a receding hairline, had a 22 percent greater risk of heart attack than their nonbalding counterparts. But those with the highest likelihood of experiencing a heart attack were the men who are balding both at the front and across the top of the head. This group was found to have a 69 percent increased risk. And these results were not just applicable to the older balding men in the studies who might be expected to have an elevated risk of heart disease. When age was factored in, the participants who were younger than 60 and balding had a 44 percent greater risk of heart attack.
While this should provide some productive fodder for future studies, the researchers cannot pinpoint why these two occurrences might be related. The same factors may influence both issues, but the hair loss itself obviously does not cause or promote the heart disease. So scheduling a hair transplant or stockpiling Rogaine will do nothing to safeguard your cardiovascular health. Instead, balding might be considered a possible indication that your heart is at risk, just as smoking, being overweight, or high blood pressure may be.2 True, you can quit smoking and make lifestyle changes, whereas it is generally assumed that you have no control over your hair loss, but it may be beneficial for men to view it as the same type of risk factor.
With such a large pool of subjects, it is more likely that these findings are not just a fluke. This is actually not the first piece of evidence linking baldness to a men's health issue. A recent study at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia showed that balding African American men are at higher risk for developing prostate cancer.3 The strongest association was found in those men with a receding hairline.
But it is male pattern baldness that is the most common cause of hair loss in men and it is passed down through your genes.4 This condition is related to testosterone by-products in the body and may affect as many as two-thirds of all men by the time they are 35 years old.5 This makes sense when you consider that changes take place in the bodies of both men and women in their 30s due to hormones. All of our hormonal systems go out of balance as we age, not just because of genetics, but also because of the excess of chemical hormones we are exposed to on a regular basis. We can help counter these effects by taking a supplement to restore balance. It won't replenish the full head of hair you may have enjoyed in your youth, but the right formula may go a long way toward increasing your overall health, and it might indeed slow down the balding process by countering the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, which is considered a primary factor in the onset of baldness…and possibly heart disease.
In any case, for now, you can consider balding as a signal to do whatever you can to lower your other cardiovascular risks. That includes losing weight if you are carrying too many pounds, eating a healthier diet, quitting smoking immediately, and getting exercise every single day. Who knows, you might just start looking and feeling so good that you can embrace the baldness ala Bruce Willis or Michael Jordan.
- 1. Carroll, Linda. "Balding men may have higher risk of heart attack, study finds." NBC News. 3 April 2013. Accessed 8 April 2013. http://www.nbcnews.com/id/51421287/ns/health/#.UWSjHRxnrtR
- 2. "What Are Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors?" National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Accessed 9 April 2013. http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/hd
- 3. Burling, Stacey. "Study of black men links baldness to prostate cancer." Med City News. 1 April 2013. Accessed 9 April 2013. http://medcitynews.com/2013/04/study-of-black-men-links-baldness-to-prostate-cancer
- 4. "Hair loss." Mayo Clinic. 29 March 2012. Accessed 9 April 2013. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hair-loss/DS00278/DSECTION=causes
- 5. "Men's Hair Loss." American Hair Loss Association. Accessed 9 April 2013. http://www.americanhairloss.org/men_hair_loss