Male Pattern Baldness Drug Could Reduce Prostate Cancer Risk
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Finasteride, a popular treatment for male pattern baldness also known as Propecia, can reduce a person’s risk of contracting prostate cancer by about one-third, according to research appearing in the August 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
According to HealthDay News reporter Dennis Thompson, the researchers conducted an 18-year follow up to the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT). The PCPT, a study which took place in the late 1990s, originally found finasteride could reduce a person’s risk of prostate cancer by 25 percent.
However, the research also claimed taking the drug increased the risk those men who did contract the disease would experience a high-grade version of prostate cancer. The new study found no such risk that the medication increases a man’s chances of succumbing to more aggressive tumors, NPR’s Richard Knox said.
As a result, lead author Dr. Ian Thompson, a urologist and professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center, and his colleagues believe finasteride could potentially be a safer way to treat prostate cancers typically treated with surgery or radiation.
“Even if there is a higher risk of high-grade cancer, it doesn’t appear to have an impact on how long a man lives, and that’s reassuring,” Thompson told Knox on Wednesday. He added the new study suggests a 30 percent overall decline in prostate cancer risk, and a 38 percent reduced risk in low-grade prostate cancers.
Overall, approximately 78 percent of men who underwent PSA (prostate specific antigen) screenings and were diagnosed with some form of prostate cancer were still alive after 15 years, regardless if they took finasteride or a placebo, Liz Szabo of USA Today said.
“Men who aren’t getting screened have no reason to take finasteride, since men who aren’t getting a PSA are unlikely to be unnecessarily diagnosed or treated,” she added. “For these reasons, neither the study’s authors nor outside experts are recommending finasteride as a general cancer prevention strategy.”
Earlier this summer, a preliminary study of men who had experienced persistent sexual side effects associated with taking finasteride discovered those individuals were also drinking less alcohol than before.
In fact, 65 percent of the men who consumed at least one drink per week prior to using the drug noticed a decrease in their drinking. The study, which is scheduled for publication in the November edition of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, is the first to examine the role of finasteride in alcohol consumption in humans with male pattern hair loss.