According to new research in Japan, men with baldness have a greater chance of developing heart problems than those with a full head of hair.
The research published by the British Medical Journal combines evidence from six other studies from around the world, involving an overall total of 37,000 men of varying hair levels.
The studies concluded that severely balding men were 32% more likely to develop coronary heart disease. This group does not include those with a receding hairline, whom were found to have a similar risk as men with no balding problems at all.
Nevertheless, balding severity still had a bearing on the results, but only if the baldness was on the crown of the head.
The risk of heart disease increased by:
The data also demonstrated that men who started to go bald earlier in their life were more at risk.
Despite the fairly strong correlations, the experts were quick to play it down, saying that the risks were less than those for smoking or obesity.
The British Heart Foundation added that men should focus on their waistline, not their hairline and that "men who’ve lost their hair should not be alarmed by this analysis." It is certainly worrying that something that we have no control over can have such an impact on our health.
Though there are certainly enough participants to make this study a significant one, my issue is with the type of causal links that can be deduced from the data. There is not enough evidence to argue that baldness actually causes heart disease, and there is a danger that such conclusions could be drawn from this data.
Researchers have concluded that baldness could be a symptom of a specific condition, which could then lead to heart disease. They cite conditions like insulin resistance and chronic inflammation, but stress could also be a significant factor.
Considering the problems in terms of study data and causal links, there would be little value, at least at this point, in starting to screen bald men for heart problems. More research needs to be undertaken to establish whether the bald gene carries with it a marked susceptibility to heart problems. At the moment, no causal link has been established so there could simply be a common factor involved in both.
If you are concerned about your hair loss problems then you may wish to consider a treatment like Propecia. If you are concerned about heart disease, it is advisable to concentrate on more controllable preventative measures, like exercise and healthy eating.