Findings in a new study by researchers from the University of Tokyo indicate that male pattern baldness may provide a strong clue about a man’s risk of developing coronary heart disease in the future. The study, published in April, 2013 in the British Medical Journal Open, found that men with severe baldness had as much as a 44 percent higher risk of developing atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries, over 10 or more years than men with a full head of hair or men who only had receding hairlines.
The meta-analysis examined 850 studies conducted over many years, of which 6 were found to meet specified criteria and were used to do the analysis. These six studies examined a combined total of 37,000 subjects from three countries, including the United States.
Three of the studies showed that older men who had severe hair loss were 32 percent more likely to develop heart disease than men who had hair; bald men who were under 55 to 60 years old were 44 percent more likely to develop heart disease. The other three studies estimated the risk for future heart disease to be even greater: 70 percent higher for balding or bald men overall, and 84 percent higher for younger men.
In addition, researchers found that balding on the top of the head and crown was associated with the greatest risk of all at 48 percent; moderate balding in that area resulted in a 36-percent risk increase; those with mild hair loss on the top and crown had an 18 percent higher risk. Men with frontal balding — or receding hairlines — had no additional risk for heart disease.
While the risks for future heart disease were found to be higher in this latest study, the findings roughly mirror those of an earlier study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, in which 19,000 men were tracked over 11 years. Researchers there found that male pattern baldness was linked to a 34-percent greater risk for heart disease, compared with men who had only receding hairlines or no hair loss.
Health experts commenting on the results of this latest study agreed that while baldness appears to be linked to heart disease, men should focus more on modifying other factors that are known to pose an even greater risk for future heart illness, such as smoking, having a large waistline, not exercising, high blood pressure, and eating an unhealthy diet. Cigarette-smoking, for instance, quadruples the risk of future heart disease; high blood pressure and high cholesterol each doubles the risk.
With respect to eating a heart-healthy diet, we’re all familiar with the recommendation to eat low-fat foods, and to alternate eating red meats with fowl and fish (the latter two are much leaner). But something that many people don’t think about is the importance of eating many vegetables, fruits and other high-fiber foods like whole-grain cereals. These foods are packed with a wide range of nutrients and antioxidants that are not found in other foods. Equally important, they aid greatly in bulking up the body’s daily waste products and are essential to having regular daily bowel movements. The more you eliminate your body’s waste, while supplying the body with adequate nutrients, the more smoothly all the body’s cells will work.
Another word of advice for someone wanting to avoid baldness, heart disease (and countless other ailments) is to make processed foods a rare exception in your diet, if you eat them at all, opting instead for whole, unprocessed or minimally processed foods. Avoiding toxic chemicals (from preservatives, to hydrogenated oils that are very prevalent in foods like breads and non-dairy creamers) is another key step in maintaining optimal cellular performance. Though many people, including most doctors, will blame genetics, the truth is that your body will respond positively when you fuel it with good foods, and it will respond negatively when you consume artificial foods with chemicals that are foreign to the body, and which the body cannot possibly process and metabolize healthfully.
Sodas and artificial “juices” should be avoided at all costs, as they are arguably the single most toxic “food” around. Instead, choose coffee or tea (lightly sweetened with raw sugar or honey; use milk or real cream, if desired). Low-fat milk is a healthy beverage, no matter our age. Real juices are good in moderation (or diluted with plenty of water, to cut down on sugar intake). Drink plenty of plain water to keep hydrated and to further assist the body’s removal of waste.
As with most disease, hair loss and heart disease are what can occur when we’ve made many bad dietary or lifestyle choices over prolonged periods of time.
By Marc Courtiol