X

New Risk Factor for COVID-19: Baldness?

Researcher says baldness is 'perfect predictor of severity'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 5, 2020 1:28 PM CDT

(Newser) – Research already has suggested that men face a greater risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. Now, scientists say male pattern baldness might actually be a risk factor, reports the Telegraph. "We really think that baldness is a perfect predictor of severity," says Brown University's Carlos Wambier, lead author of two small studies in Spain. The first study of 41 men admitted to Spanish hospitals with COVID-19 found 71% had male pattern baldness, which is estimated to affect 31% to 53% of white men. The second study of 122 men admitted to three Madrid hospitals with COVID-19 found 79% had male pattern baldness, reports Science. As male pattern baldness is linked to dihydrotestosterone—an androgen, or so-called "male" sex hormone—the thought is that androgens may boost the virus' ability to penetrate cells.

story continues below

There is other evidence in support of this theory. For instance, a study of 42,000 men with prostate cancer in Veneto, Italy, found patients on androgen-deprivation therapy—drugs that reduce levels of androgens that fuel prostate cancer cells—were significantly less likely to fall ill, be hospitalized, or die of COVID-19 than men with prostate cancer who were not taking the drugs. These results are replicated in a second, still-unpublished study, whose author believes "androgen deprivation may limit those severe outcomes," per Science. A US trial is already underway to see if drugs that treat male pattern baldness (by blocking the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone) are effective at treating COVID-19. Another study of 200 veterans in Los Angeles, Seattle, and New York will analyze the effect of prostate cancer drugs, per the Telegraph. (Read more coronavirus stories.)

We use cookies. By Clicking "OK" or any content on this site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. Read more in our privacy policy.