The long-studied idea that balding men have a higher risk of heart disease gets some new support in a study, but experts say hair-challenged men need not rush to the doctor's office.

The study, published Wednesday in the British medical journal BMJ Open, pools results from several previous studies with inconsistent results. It concludes that the link probably does exist, but is modest — far weaker than the link between heart disease and well-known risk factors such as smoking, obesity and high blood pressure.

But the findings might give balding young men one more good reason to work on reducing such known risks, says researcher Tomohide Yamada of the University of Tokyo in Japan. A bald scalp, he says, may be a "marker" for some underlying condition that contributes both to hair loss and to coronary artery disease. That could be anything from high blood pressure to high sensitivity to testosterone, the researchers speculate.

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