BONN, Germany — Shorter men might be at risk for experiencing hair loss or baldness more quickly, according to a new genetic study from the University of Bonn.
It’s been proven in the past that men who bald early have an increased risk of certain health issues like heart diseases and prostate cancer. To further study this topic, researchers at the university used a group of 11,000 men with premature baldness and 12,000 who had no hair loss at all.
The team made a number of discoveries, linking premature baldness to being short and experiencing early puberty.
“We were thus able to identify 63 alterations in the human genome that increase the risk of premature hair loss,” says Dr. Stefanie Heilmann-Heimbach, one of the lead authors of the study and human geneticist at the University of Bonn, in a university news release. “Some of these alterations were also found in connection with other characteristics and illnesses, such as reduced body size, earlier occurrence of puberty and various cancers.”
The research team confirmed previous research that found men who experience hair loss are at greater risk of prostate cancer, and also found sufferers are at a higher risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
“We have also found links to light skin color and increased bone density. These could indicate that men with hair loss are better able to use sunlight to synthesize vitamin D. They could also explain why white men, in particular, lose their hair prematurely,” says Professor Markus Nöthen, the Director of the Institute of Human Genetics at the University of Bonn.
Markus explains that while researchers identified certain genes that seem to play a part in baldness, there is a lot more work to be done on the topic. They hope to increase the knowledge about the links between premature hair loss and other illnesses.
“Men with premature hair loss do not need to be concerned. The risks of illness are only increased slightly,” he says. “It is, however, exciting to see that hair loss is by no means an isolated characteristic, but instead displays various relationships with other characteristics.”
The study was published March 8 in the journal Nature Communications.