Bad news for men who suffer from premature baldness relatively early in life: a new study has found that men who begin to lose their hair at age 20 are at twice the risk of developing prostate cancer.
Researchers said their findings suggest men who lose their hair in their 20s might benefit from early screening.
"At present there is no hard evidence to show any benefit from screening the general population for prostate cancer. We need a way of identifying those men who are at high risk," Philippe Giraud of Paris Descartes University, who led the study, said in a statement.
"Balding at the age of 20 may be one of these easily identifiable risk factors and more work needs to be done now to confirm this," he added.
Researchers, including Michael Yassa of the University of Montreal, compared 388 men being treated with the disease with 281 healthy men. The men in the study filled out a questionnaire detailing their history of prostate cancer, if any, and were asked to detail any hair loss they had at ages 20, 30 and 40, ranging from no hair loss (stage I) to receding hairline and balding from the top of the head (stage IV).
Patients' medical histories were also supplied to the researchers.
"The data revealed that any balding at stages II-IV was associated with double the risk of prostate cancer later in life. This trend was lost at ages 30 and 40," Yassa said.
The study was published in the journal Annals of Oncology.