A newly published study in the journal BMJ Open has strongly associated the occurrence of male pattern baldness and coronary heart disease. The analysis of nearly 37,000 people found a 32 percent relationship between the two despite adjusting for other risk factors such as age and family history.
Male pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss for men. This type of baldness occurs in 80 percent of men under 70 according to WebMD. Symptoms include the continual thinning of hair that eventually creates a U-shaped pattern of hair on both sides of one’s head.
Male pattern baldness is often related to one’s genes and male sex hormones. It is typically characterised by thinning of one’s hair on the crown versus a receding hairline. A receding hairline often has different causative factors and not linked to the same genes and male sex hormones. The study found that a receding hairline did not seem to have the same impact on coronary artery disease.
Are men experiencing menopause?
Lower than average levels of male sex hormones is called androgen deficiency. Androgen deficiency in men has been called ‘male menopause’, but this is misleading, as men do not experience a sudden drop in sex hormone production. Men experience a gradual drop in sex hormones over an extended period of time, primarily after age 30.
A direct association between testosterone and heart disease has never been established, but for many years, doctors have suspected that a link exists. Men with low testosterone tend to have more body fat and specifically more around the abdominal area. The amount of abdominal fat is one of the most accurate indicators for diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
The risks associated with male pattern baldness were significantly lower than other known risk factors such as smoking, cholesterol levels and blood pressure said the researchers. The findings do confirm a complex link between lifestyle cause and effect.
Waistline or hairline?
Men losing hair on the top of their head should focus on their waistline and improve their lifestyle instead of their hairline according to the British Heart Foundation.
Hereditary hair loss is out of one’s control, but many of the risk factors for coronary heart disease are not. Stopping smoking, eating nutrient-dense foods, maintaining a healthy weight and engaging in physical activity are all things that one can do to help protect their heart.
Exercise is one of the most important factors in balancing male hormones. It’s known to reduce stress hormones such as cortisol and inhibit abdominal weight gain. Diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammation in the blood vessels and other coronary heart disease risk factors are also greatly improved.
Diet to prevent heart disease
Fruits and vegetables are the most nutrient-dense foods. They contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and fiber that is known to reduce one’s cardiovascular risk. It’s important to choose low-fat proteins such as poultry, fish, dairy products and eggs.
Certain types of fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower the fat in the bloodstream called triglycerides. You’ll find the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in cold-water fish such as salmon, mackerel and herring. Other sources of omega-3s are flaxseed and walnuts. Beans, peas and lentils are also excellent sources of protein and contain less fat and no cholesterol.
Dr Cory Couillard works in collaboration with the World Health Organization’s goals of disease prevention and global healthcare education.