A number of studies have shown an association between male pattern baldness (MPB) and cardiovascular disease. Few of these studies, however, have examined whether MPB is a novel risk factor, or is associated with abnormalities of established coronary risk factors. We have therefore performed an analysis of MPB and cardiovascular risk factors in the general population. A total of 1219 male participants aged 18–70 years from the Victorian Family Heart Study were surveyed using a validated questionnaire for degree and pattern of baldness. Carefully standardized measures of height, weight, blood pressure, pulse rate, total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and plasma fibrinogen were made. Subjects were grouped according to the degree and pattern of baldness as: no baldness, frontal baldness and vertex baldness. Bald men were older than non-bald men ( P < 0.0001). Age was also associated with increased levels of coronary risk factors ( P < 0.0001). When multiple regression was used to adjust for age differences, the levels of coronary risk factors were not significantly different between the bald and non-bald groups. The lack of association between baldness and established coronary risk factors implies that baldness may predispose to coronary heart disease through novel mechanisms yet to be defined.
Insulin is found in hair follicles and may play a role in the regulation of androgen metabolism and the hair growth cycle, which are relevant to the loss of scalp hair known as male pattern baldness. An excess of dihydrotestosterone on balding scalp indicates that the condition is androgen dependent. Premature male pattern baldness may be the male phenotype of familial polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition characterized by high levels of androgens and insulin that has been linked to insulin gene polymorphism. Therefore, we studied possible associations between relevant insulin gene polymorphisms and premature male pattern baldness in the general community. We examined the distribution of three dimorphic restriction fragment length polymorphisms: Hph I, Pst I and Fok I in cases consisting of 56 men aged 18–30 years with significant baldness, and in 107 control men aged 50 years or more with no indication of baldness. No significant differences between cases and controls in allele, genotype or haplotype frequencies were identified. We conclude that, in the general population, the insulin gene is not associated with premature male pattern baldness.