The Dr. Game: What they don't tell you about baldness and heart attack
Dr. Ken Walker, aka Dr. Gifford-Jones
A Czech proverb says, "A good man grows gray and a rascal bald." And Thomas Dekker wrote in "The Gull's Hornbook" in 1609, "How ugly is a bald pate! It looks like a face wanting a nose." Now, a Japanese report says that men with baldness should be less concerned about how it affects their looks. Rather, is the lack of hair associated with increased risk of coronary attack?
The Japanese findings were published online in the British Medical Journal, "Open". The study involved 40,000 males whose hair pattern was graded as either frontal, crown-top baldness or a combination of the two. The conclusion was that not all bald men are created equal.
Men with frontal baldness had a 22 per cent increased risk of coronary disease. For those males with crown-top baldness, the risk increased to 52 per cent and if men had both crown-top baldness and frontal loss of hair, the risk increased to 69 per cent.
This Japanese study is not an isolated one. Harvard researchers also reported that a man's chance of heart disease depends on when hair loss started, how fast it is occurring and that hair loss on the top of the head was more likely to be associated with coronary disease.
Medical literature, however, cites a number of studies that were unable to find a significant association between hair loss and heart disease. Other good news is that those with just receding hairlines were not at increased risk of heart trouble.
But what causes baldness? The reason for this loss of hair is not clear. Dr. Tomohide Yamada at the University of Tokyo speculates that hormones might play a role. And that insulin resistance, the forerunner of diabetes, may be implicated since it causes atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries). Atherosclerosis is mentioned in several reports on hair loss and suggests that if baldness is present atherosclerosis should be suspected.
So what should balding males do, particularly those who lose hair on the top of the head at an early age? They should inquire whether male relatives who suffered hair loss had a coronary at an early age. And if this is the case, start to eliminate as many risk factors as possible that are known to be associated with heart disease.
If further research shows that atherosclerosis is a major cause of hair loss, doctors will want to treat it the same way as they treat atherosclerosis in coronary disease. This means 99 per cent of doctors will prescribe cholesterol-lowering drugs (CLDs).
Many readers are aware that I had a heart attack 19 years ago and said no to CLDs. Rather, I decided to take high doses of vitamin C and lysine in a product called Medi-C Plus available in Health Food Stores. I had interviewed Dr. Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel Prize winner, who told me animals make vitamin C and humans lost this ability eons ago due to a genetic mishap.
Pauling explained that vitamin C is needed for the manufacture of collagen, the glue that holds coronary cells together. A lack of C means a poor collagen level. Cracks then appear between coronary cells setting the stage for a fatal blood clot.
Recently, Dr Sydney Bush, an English researcher, made a monumental discovery. He took photos of the retinal arteries of patients and then gave them 6,000 milligrams of C and 5,000 of lysine (lysine adds strength to coronary arteries just like steel rods increase the strength of concrete). A year later he repeated the photos. To his surprise, he found atherosclerosis fading away. In effect, vitamin C can prevent and reverse atherosclerosis.
These before-and-after photos are on my web site www.docgiff.com and you do not need to be a doctor to see the difference. But remember I am not your doctor. Moreover long-term double blind studies will never be done as vitamin C and lysine are natural products that cannot be patented. This means that no one is going to spend millions for a study without a profit. But I believed Pauling's research made sense. Besides, I'm still alive 19 years later when cardiologists said I'd be dead in two years without CLDs.
For comments email info@docgiff. com. Dr. Gifford-Jones' common-sense based medical column offered with the occasional dash of humour has been published in Canadian newspapers for 30 years.