Sleep apnoea a potential risk factor for male-pattern baldness
Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) may increase the risk of male-pattern baldness (MPB) in men with a family history of hair loss, and this association appears to be mediated by low serum transferrin saturation (TSA) levels related to hypoxia, a study suggests.
The cross-sectional study included a total of 932 men aged 46–76 years who underwent polysomnography (PSG) and hair assessments. OSA was defined as an apnoea‐hypopnoea index ≥5 by PSG evaluation, while MPB was evaluated using the Norwood‐Hamilton scale classification.
In the cohort, 495 men (53 percent) had OSA and 224 (24 percent) had MPB, exhibiting moderate to severe baldness. There were 32 men (4.6 percent) who showed reduced TSA levels (<20 percent) indicating iron deficiency. Additionally, 383 men (41 percent) reported a family history of hair loss.
On logistic regression analysis adjusting for potential risk factors, OSA and other sleep‐related variables were not associated with MPB. On the other hand, joint analysis of OSA and family history of hair loss revealed that men with both conditions had a sevenfold higher likelihood of MPB than men without them (odds ratio, 6.82; 95 percent CI, 3.70–12.56; p<0.05 for interaction between OSA and family history of hair loss).
Furthermore, TSA levels were strongly associated with MPB and OSA. OSA cases with or without MPB showed lower TSA levels than those with neither OSA nor MPB (p<0.05).
The findings show that OSA and MPB are inversely associated with TSA levels, an iron status biomarker reportedly associated with hair loss, researchers said.
More research is needed to confirm the association and to elucidate its biological mechanisms, they added. Future studies should be expanded to include other ethnicities, women and individuals with other types of alopecia.