A study shows there is a link between men’s hair loss and skin cancer

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Alopecia Male Hair Loss

A research team led by Australia’s QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute has shed new light on why people with hair loss are more susceptible to skin cancers.

According to the study published Tuesday in the Nature Communications journal, researchers tagged sun exposure on the scalp, instead of androgens, as the main driver, after conducting male-only meta-analyses of 12,232 cutaneous melanoma cases and 17,512 keratinocyte cancers.

“We found no evidence that testosterone levels play any meaningful role in the relationship between balding and skin cancer,” said Jue-Sheng Ong, lead author of the study and research officer at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

“Interestingly, we did find an overlap between genes which cause hair loss and genes which affect skin color or pigmentation. Skin color is a known risk factor for skin cancer, and these results suggest pigmentation may also contribute to this increased risk in people with hair loss,” Ong noted. “However, the majority of this relationship between balding and skin cancer is still explained by increased sun exposure.”

With “strong associations” identified between male-pattern baldness as well as head and neck squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma, researchers concluded that men with less hair covering partly explain the higher incidence of melanoma among male residents in countries with high ambient UV.

Data from Cancer Council Australia showed that approximately two in three Australians are likely to be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer before the age of 70.

“Australia has the highest melanoma rates in the world, with one person diagnosed every 30 minutes, so greater understanding of which groups in the population are at increased risk helps us target them with preventative and early detection strategies,” said Georgina Long, co-author of the study and co-medical director of Melanoma Institute Australia.

She added that protecting against overexposure to UV could be one of the most important preventative measures against melanoma and other skin cancers.

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