Men with male pattern baldness could be at a higher risk of having serious coronavirus symptoms, according to a new study.
The lead author of the study expressed confidence in the hypothesis, telling The Daily Telegraph: "We really think that baldness is a perfect predictor of severity."
According to The Daily Telegraph Professor Carlos Wambier of Brown University carried out two studies in Spain which found that a disproportionately high number of men with male pattern baldness were taken to hospital with coronavirus.
Why might bald men be at a higher risk?
The first of Wambier’s studies found that 71% of 41 patients examined with Covid-19 in Spanish hospitals were bald. The background rate of baldness for white men of a similar age to the subjects was between 31 and 53%.
A second study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, found 79% of the 122 male coronavirus patients in Madrid hospitals were bald.
Scientists have argued androgens - male sex hormones - may contribute to hair loss and increase the ability of the coronavirus to attack cells.
That means hormone-suppressing drugs could potentially be used to slow Covid-19's progress and allow sufferers time to recover.
Professor Wambier told the Telegraph: "We think androgens or male hormones are definitely the gateway for the virus to enter our cells."
Trials underway but caution urged
Drugs used to treat prostate cancer have been touted as a potential treatment method off the back of the study.
Matthew Rettig, an oncologist at UC Los Angeles is treating 200 veterans in Los Angeles, Seattle and New York with androgen inhibiting drugs.
In prostate cancer treatment androgens have been shown to stimulate an enzyme which can cause cancerous growth. A paper published in April found that the enzyme was involved in coronavirus infections.
Howard Soule, executive vice president at the Prostate Cancer Foundation told Science Magazine earlier this month that "everybody is chasing a link between androgens …and the outcome of Covid-19,”
However others have urged caution, with Prostate Cancer UK head of policy Karen Stalbow telling the newspaper "much more evidence is needed" before prostate cancer drugs could be used for coronavirus treatment.