Health & Wellness

Bald or Balding? Wear a Hat!

Baldness seems to boost a man’s risk for skin cancer


Men, especially those affected by baldness in their younger years, are at an increased risk for melanoma. A study published by researchers from Saint Louis University found that between 1995 and 2014, there was a 51% increase in the number of head and neck melanoma cases seen in US and Canadians patients under 40.

Since women tend to have longer hair that covers the back of their neck, cancer on the neck and head tends to affect men more often. About one in five of all melanoma cancers appear on the neck or head.

Even young men are at risk, researchers found. The hike in cases over the past two decades applies not only to older adults, but also for pediatric patients, adolescents, and young adults. The greatest jump in cases was found in boys and men between the ages of 15 and 39, and it was greater in white men than in non-white men, and male pattern baldness, a known risk factor for skin cancer, is more common among white men.

“The apparent increasing incidence of head and neck melanoma among the pediatric, adolescent, and young adult population of North America warrants increasing public health awareness and education, especially among males,” researchers wrote.

The findings are in line with statistics from the Canadian Cancer Society that shows rates of melanoma in men have increased at about 2.2% each year since 1984. The society’s most recent projections are that more men than women would be diagnosed with the disease in 2019, with about 4,300 men projected as opposed to about 3,500 women. While the survival rate for skin cancer is much higher than for other cancers, the society’s projections also suggest that many men aren’t noticing the disease early enough: 840 men, versus 450 women, were projected to die from melanoma by the end of 2019.

Men can reduce their risk for developing skin cancer by keeping their head covered and by applying sunscreen frequently.

Photo: iStock/michaeljung.