PROBLEM: 30 to 40 percent of adult men have male pattern baldness. Some research has suggested that there's an association between hair loss and heart disease, but not enough to consider it as a possible early warning sign.
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METHODOLOGY: After evaluating the merits of the existing literature -- over 850 studies published since 1950 -- Japanese researchers narrowed the field to six sufficiently rigorous studies that together account for almost 40,000 men. Three were cohort studies, following the health of balding men over time; the other three, case-control studies, compared bald men to peers with full heads of hair. All controlled for complicating factors like age and smoking.
RESULTS: Across the board, increased balding was strongly linked to increased risk of CHD.
Mostly-bald men in the cohort studies were 32 percent more likely to develop CHD over the follow-up period than those who weren't balding. Under the age of 55-60 (the studies grouped them differently), the association remained and was even intensified: CHD risk for the "extensively balding" was upped to 44 percent.