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Friday, 7 February, 2003, 12:33 GMT
Shaving habits linked to stroke risk
Man with hand on his chin
Shaving habits could indicate stroke risk
Shaving less than once a day could increase a man's risk of having a stroke by around 70%, researchers have found.

The link between needing to shave infrequently and stroke risk emerged from a 20-year study of over 2,000 men aged 45-59 in Caerphilly, south Wales.

At the time the study began, in the late 70s, the prevailing trend was to be clean-shaven, so infrequent grooming is unlikely to be due to a desire for designer stubble.

Researchers from the University of Bristol say it is more likely to be because a man needed to shave infrequently, due to having less testosterone in their bodies.

There may well be some hormonal explanation

Professor Shah Ebrahim, University of Bristol
They were asked about their lifestyle, including shaving habits, then followed to see if they suffered strokes or other diseases.

Men with beards were not included in the study.

The 500 infrequent shavers were found to be more likely to smoke - a known risk factor for stroke. They were also more likely to have angina and do manual work, but were less likely to be married.

The study also found men who shaved less regularly were at a higher risk of suffering a heart attack and of suffering from lung cancer.

But when other risk factors were taken into account, particularly smoking, these factors disappeared.

Hormones

However, even after all the factors were considered, researchers found they were had a 70% increased risk of having a stroke and a 30% increased risk of dying from any cause.

It was also found that 45% of men who shaved less frequently died from all causes during the course of the study, compared to 31% of daily shavers.

Professor Shah Ebrahim, who led the research, told BBC News Online the findings indicated infrequent shaving did increase a man's risk of stroke.

"If it was all due to the other risk factors, we would have expected the link between shaving and stroke to disappear. But it didn't.

"There may well be some hormonal explanation."

Baldness, linked to having higher levels of testosterone, has been linked to a higher risk of heart disease.

Professor Ebrahim said it was not yet clear why sex hormone levels influenced a man's likelihood of becoming ill.

He said he hoped to carry out further research.

The study was funded by the Stroke Association.

A spokeswoman told BBC News Online that the research was interesting.

"This is one part of the puzzle. This research builds on work already done looking at hormone levels.

"The more we know about, the easier it is to help people to pinpoint their risk."

See also:

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