Is Hair Loss A Sign Of Other Health Issues?
Did you know that hair loss and medical conditions are sometimes linked?
Early hair loss or sudden hair loss can be a sign that something, other than male or female pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia), is going wrong in the body.
As discussed below, sometimes hair loss can be an indication of heart disease and other health conditions, particularly in men.
Heart Disease And Hair Loss
According to studies reported by BMJ Open Reports, male pattern hair loss is, surprisingly, often linked to heart disease. Men with hair loss at the crown of their head have as much as a 70% increase of heart disease than men without hair loss.
Studies reflect that men who started losing their hair at younger ages were at a higher risk of heart disease than those who did not. Men who lost most of their hair before the age 55 were at the highest risk. The percentages decreased with age, but there is still a correlation.
Why Hair Loss Occurs
Men who suffer from pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia) have a sensitivity to Dihydrotestosterone (commonly abbreviated as "DHT"). DHT is a by-product of testosterone, something every man has throughout life even long after puberty.
Unless blocked, every adult male's testosterone converts to DHT. DHT then triggers a process called "miniaturization". Miniaturization causes hair follicles to shrink, which causes thinning and eventually hair loss. This doesn’t mean every man will lose their hair. How your body reacts to DHT depends on your genetic dispositions, head shape, and type of hair.
DHT also interrupts the hair growth cycle. When the affected hair follicles enter the growth phase, they’ll grow thinner and more brittle strands of hair. It also causes hair to fall out much sooner than it normally would in a normal hair cycle.
Who Should be Concerned?
The studies conducted on the link between heart disease and male pattern hair loss found that the risk is mostly for men with vertex hair loss or hair loss at the crown of the head. They found that the more severe the hair loss, the higher the risk of heart disease. Those with extensive hair loss had a 48% chance of heart disease. The risk dropped to 36% for those with moderate hair loss and 18% for those with mild hair loss.
The good news is, men with a receding hairline were not at risk. But, men with both frontal and vertex hair loss had a 69% higher chance of heart disease, but just frontal hair loss was only linked to heart disease about 22% of the time.
Other Health Issues DHT May Cause
Studies establish that DHT may be correlated to other health conditions experience by men, which may lead to any of the following:
- Prostate cancer – A study conducted by the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that men with frontal hair loss (some crown hair loss) had an increased 40% risk of prostate cancer than men without hair loss. The study found that men ages 45 and younger with aggressive hair loss were at the highest risk.
- Heart disease – Heart disease is associated with inflammation in the body. It may occur from your lifestyle, excessive DHT in your body, or a combination of both. Early hair loss, however, is usually a sign of excessive DHT, which should serve as a warning sign of early heart disease. If there’s inflammation in your body, your hair will react, almost giving you a ‘warning signal.’
- Insulin resistance – If you’re insulin resistant, your body doesn’t get the nutrients it needs to stay healthy. It affects your blood flow, decreasing the flow to everywhere in your body, including your scalp. When your scalp doesn’t receive adequate blood flow, new hair cannot grow. This leads to what looks like male pattern baldness, but it’s actually your hair thinning because of the insulin resistance.
Look For Signs Of Male Pattern Hair Loss
If you notice signs of male pattern baldness or sudden thinning of your hair, especially if you’re 55 years or younger, there is no reason to panic.
But, it is obviously always important to pay close attention to your health. Visit your doctor regularly and assess your health. Are you eating right? Is your blood pressure and heart rate regular? Do you feel strong? Talk to your doctor about any symptoms you feel and even if you feel ‘fine’ get regular checkups so you can catch any issues before the become serious.
Hair loss is a sign of many things – don’t ignore it. The only time it may not be a sign of a serious health issue is if you’ve made it to your senior years before your started to notice meaningful hair loss or thinning. Consider yourself lucky and that it’s just a part of the aging process at this point.
Before then, though, be aware and consult with your physician regularly. Consider hair loss or thinning an invitation to make sure you are taking care of your health, and of course your hair.