SINGAPORE: Men who are balding or greying prematurely may have a higher risk of coronary heart disease than those with full heads of hair, according to a study on more than 2,000 young men in India.
The research, which was presented at the Cardiological Society of India's 69th annual conference in Kolkata, studied 790 men under 40 years old who had coronary artery disease, and 1,270 healthy men of a similar age, who acted as a control group.
They discovered that men with the heart condition were more likely to have gone grey prematurely: 50 per cent compared with 30 per cent in the healthy group.
Men in the heart condition group were also more likely to have male pattern baldness - 49 per cent versus 27 per cent of those in the healthy group. Comparatively, obesity was associated with only a fourfold increased risk of the disease.
Principal investigator Dr Kamal Sharma said: "The possible reason could be the process of biological ageing, which may be faster in certain patients and may be reflected in hair changes”.
Alun Hughes, professor of cardiovascular physiology and pharmacology at University College London, said similar correlations had been made before.
"Since hair follicles are a target for androgens - for example, testosterone - it has been suggested that early male pattern baldness could reflect differences in responses to androgens that might influence the risk of heart disease,” he said.
Lead study author Dr Dhammdeep Humane of the UN Mehta Institute of Cardiology and Research Centre in Ahmedabad, said men with male pattern balding or premature greying "should receive extra monitoring for coronary artery disease and advice on lifestyle changes, such as healthy diet, exercise, and stress management”.
Another study author, Dr Sachin Patil, said there was an increase in coronary disease in young men which could not be explained by traditional risk factors and added that the hair conditions were "plausible risk factors".