Researchers analyzing studies published on male pattern baldness and coronary heart disease have arrived at some interesting conclusions: Male pattern baldness is linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease, although a receding hairline makes little difference.
Reviewing medical study databases, the researchers found 850 studies on male pattern baldness and coronary heart disease, published between 1950 and 2012. Among those, six were found suitable for the current analysis. Combined, they included data on almost 40,000 men.
Three of the studies were cohort studies which followed the men for a period of time. Analysis of these studies found that men who had lost most of their hair were 32 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease than men who maintained a full head of hair. And when the researchers looked at younger men under the age of 55, the balding men were 44 percent more likely to develop coronary artery disease.
The other three studies compared the coronary health of men who were bald and/or balding with men who were not. Analysis of these studies found that balding men were 70 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease; the risk was increased for younger age groups, where the chance was up to 84 percent more likely.
The researchers looked at four differing grades of baldness and determined that the severity of baldness affected the risk of coronary heart disease.
The authors say that explanations for the reasons behind the association vary, but include the possibility that baldness may indicate insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes; a state of chronic inflammation; or increased sensitivity to testosterone, all of which are involved directly or indirectly in promoting cardiovascular disease, according to a news release for the study.
They conclude, the "findings suggest that vertex baldness is more closely associated with systemic atherosclerosis than with frontal baldness. Thus, cardiovascular risk factors should be reviewed carefully in men with vertex baldness, especially younger men" who should "probably be encouraged to improve their cardiovascular risk profile."
The study was conducted by the British Medical Journal.
NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman and Dr. Roshini Raj report on the study below:
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