Propecia Does Not Increase Prostate Cancer Risk According to Chief Medical Officer of The American Cancer Society
June 15, 2011
The news has spread far and wide through the hair loss community that the Food and Drug Administration expanded their warning last Thursday on a group of drugs which includes finasteride (Proscar/Propecia), stating that using these drugs may increase the risk of high grade prostate cancer.
The latest warning indicates that 5 alpha reductase inhibitors (which include the hair loss drug Propecia) are linked to a greater risk of high grade prostate cancers. However, many physicians, including prostate cancer specialists, believe that these drugs actually improve the ability to detect aggressive tumors that already exist in patients, which can prove to be life saving.
According to Otis Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society, this latest FDA warning has been misinterpreted by many and he felt it was important to set the record straight.
Spencer Kobren speaks with Dr. Otis Brawley of The American Cancer Society
April 12, 2011
The hair loss community is in a panic, and our email boxes are full with correspondence from frightened hair loss sufferers from around the world.
According to reports on a recent study originally published online in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, men who choose to take the drug finasteride to treat their hair loss are playing russian roulette with their sex lives. Some researchers, anti-Propecia blogs, and the mainstream media assert either accept hair loss or risk permanent impotence by attempting to treat it.
According to the latest study conducted by Dr. Michael Irwig and his team at George Washington University Medical School, 92 percent of study participants reported developing erectile dysfunction after taking finasteride, with 94 percent reporting that they experienced low sexual desire, 92
percent reporting a decline in sexual arousal and 69 percent claimed trouble achieving an orgasm.
Well, these findings shouldn’t be too surprising especially since 100 percent of the study participants were men who reported suffering sexual dysfunction after taking the drug finasteride prior to participating in the study. [Read more]
March 2, 2010
A six month pilot study conducted by molecular dermatology and research innovator Hair DX, suggests that certain genetic mechanisms can help predict if the breakthrough hair loss drug Propecia (Finasteride), primary prescribed to men, could actually be effective in the treatment of female pattern hair loss in post menopausal women.
“Results of our pilot study are very encouraging, as it appears we have found a key piece of the genetic puzzle which identifies women who can benefit from Finasteride therapy in the same way men do. Our findings suggest these women actually have a female corollary to male pattern hair loss (Androgenetic Alopecia), and that is an important finding,” says IAHRS Accepted Member Dr. Sharon Keene, Chief Medical Officer of HairDX. “Once these results are confirmed, it can usher in a new era of treatment for female Androgenetic Alopecia.”
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May 7, 2009
Setting goals may be the most challenging aspect of planning hair restoration. Many of us can be emotionally devastated by our hair loss. We tend to want to fix what’s missing right now.
Until hair cloning, hair multiplication, gene therapy, or anything else becomes viable and affordable, we are left to work within the confines of our available donor supplies. And for the sake of our discussion, our references will be to scalp donor. Hair harvested from other regions of the body are methodology still in their infancy stages and because of the lack of consistent results (yields), we cannot and will not rely on it as a realistic or feasible donor source. Hopefully that will change in the near future.
Hair restoration is an all encompassing term and extends beyond the realm of surgery. First and foremost, patients have to decide if they will use the available medications approved by the FDA for treating MPB. Interestingly enough, the earlier an individual decides to begin treatment after formal diagnosis, the better overall results achieved including regrowth. These medications are Propecia (men only, finasteride 1mg daily), and Rogaine (minoxidil 3% & 5% strength). Why is this an important element in setting one’s goals? We know that MPB is a progressive disorder in its nature so without the effective use of hair loss medications, the loss will continue in its predestined course. [Read more]
February 28, 2009
Looks like Finasteride, sold as Propecia to combat male pattern hair loss, has been clinically proven to help prevent prostate cancer but there are still questions left to be answered about the drug.
This is the first medication that has demonstrated the ability to help prevent prostate disease, experts said. The American Cancer Society notes that more than 186,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. Nearly 29,000 die of it. That is why such special attention is being paid to Finasteride.
While previous studies show that Finasteride reduces the overall likelihood of getting prostate cancer by 25%, some doctors are concerned that Finasteride may increase the risk of developing the deadliest types of tumors. However, the most recent analyses have nearly dismissed these worries. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Urological Association, the drug’s benefits are a good enough reason for men to discuss Finasteride with their doctors. [Read more]
January 5, 2009
There is no doubt that Propecia works. The American Hair loss Association recommends this clinically proven, FDA approved hair loss treatment as the first line of attack for any man serious about effectively treating his hair loss.
As many of my readers and listeners already know, I credit Merck and Co., the makers of Propecia, for literally changing the course of my life. Having the ability to stop the progression of my hair loss provided me with the motivation to write my first book, The Bald Truth: The First Complete Guide To Preventing and Treating Hair loss.
Throughout the last decade, I have had the profound privilege to be in a position to educate and to motivate hair loss sufferers from around the world, and the one piece of advice that I give to every man suffering with male pattern hair loss is to speak to their doctors about Propecia.
Through my radio program, I have spoken to countless men who seem to be in a great deal of distress about the prospect of going bald, yet they continue to voice their concerns about the ongoing cost of Propecia. In my opinion, Propecia is a relatively low monthly expense when considering how this treatment can literally improve the quality of a person’s life. For less than the cost of a night out, a guy can enjoy the benefits of maintaining his appearance, his self confidence, and in many cases his self esteem. In my mind it’s a no-brainer. Never the less, Merck and Co. has created a new program to help motivated men begin treatment with Propecia while saving a significant amount of money. [Read more]
October 28, 2008
Pro athletes can rejoice in knowing that they no longer have to choose between their careers and maintaining their potential multimillion dollar image.
News that Propecia will be taken off the World Anti-Doping Agency’s “banned” list has been received with cheers from the world’s follically-challenged athletes, but is it too little too late for those who have already suffered career shattering blows from the anti-doping agency?
Some athletes say that it is.
New Zealand tennis pro Mark Nelson’s career has all but grinded to a halt after being banned for two years just because he wanted to save his hair. His world ranking has dropped dramatically, making it very difficult to recoup from his forced hiatus from the sport.
Other professional athletes who have tested positive for Propecia in recent years include NHL goalie Jose Theodore, Brazilian soccer legend Romário, Italian golfer Alessandro Pissilli, Zach Lund the U.S. skeleton racer, and German wheelchair basketball player Ahmet Coskun who was banned from the Paralympics after testing positive for the drug. [Read more]
October 7, 2008
I have spent countless hours researching hair loss including getting bombarded by television, radio, internet, etc etc. It’s nice to be able to read a website (The Bald Truth & IAHRS) and listen to someone with obvious knowledge in the field. I know you always write a disclaimer in your emails that you’re not a doctor but I’m willing to bet you know more about the subject of hair loss, physically and emotionally than 99% of the doctors out there.
I have 2 questions and I appreciate any time you put into responding. I am 32 years old and first noticed I started thinning when I was about 25. I haven’t done a thing for it but to be honest it’s been really gradual. I’m currently about a stage 3 on the scale (I forget the name) so it’s definitely time to either “shave it or save it”.
I am going to start using Propecia, hopefully I didn’t wait too long to get that working. I’m just wondering about the ‘shedding’ phase. It doesn’t mention it on the Propecia website and I haven’t been able to find much credible information on this. I’m just wondering what the chances are of this occurring, and if it does happen how much shedding given the worst case scenario? [Read more]
August 27, 2008
I have been using Propecia since it became available on the market, which is quite a few years. Have there been any adverse effects of using Propecia over a long period of time? Does this medication harm the liver in anyway?
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Finasteride was first approved by the FDA in 1992 as Proscar. As you’re probably aware, Proscar is a 5 mg dosage of Finsateride that is proscribed for the treatment of BPH or prostate enlargement. The 1 mg dose of finasteride, approved as Propecia in December of 1997, was the first truly effective treatment for male pattern hair loss.
To my knowledge, in the sixteen years that finsateride has been on the market there have been no reports of any adverse effects on the liver of those using the drug for an extended period of time. As always, I have to state clearly that I am not a physician and that my opinions and knowledge concerning hair loss and its treatments are based on extensive research and reporting on the subject as a consumer advocate and hair loss educator.
With this said, it’s important to note that Propecia cuts PSA levels in half after one year of use. PSA stands for prostate-specific antigen and is a protein produced by the cells of the prostate gland. The PSA blood test is commonly used to check for signs of prostate cancer and other related prostate problems. According to experts, men with prostate cancer often have elevated PSA levels because cancer cells make excessive amounts of this protein, Generally higher PSA levels are indicative of more cancer cells being present in your body. Now this isn’t always the case, it is possible to have prostate cancer without having elevated PSA levels, but the PSA test has been shown to significantly increase the ability for physicians to make an early diagnosis of the disease which is paramount for early intervention.
Since Propecia is prescribed to young men in their 20s, 30s and 40s it is important to tell your doctor that you are taking the medication so that PSA levels can be more accurately determined. The general rule of thumb is to double the levels of those using Propecia for more than a year. It’s also imortant to note the the PSA blood test is not the only way for doctors to determine the presence of prostate cancer.
Another long term concern that has been discussed in literature is the relationship between long term use of finasteride and male breast neoplasia or breast cancer.
During a 4 to 6 year placebo-controlled study testing finasteride 5 mg on 3,047 men, there were 4 cases of breast cancer in men treated with Proscar but no cases in men given placebo. In another 4 year placebo controlled study testing Proscar using 3,040 men, there were 2 cases of breast cancer in placebo treated men, but no cases were reported in men treated with Proscar. To my knowledge there have been no significant reports that can directly connect long term use of finasteride to male breast cancer.
As far as prostate cancer, the long term use of finasteride has recently been linked to a significant decrease in the risk of developing prostate cancer. Finasteride is also now being prescribed as a preventative treatment to some high risk patients, such as those with a strong family history of prostate cancer.
On a personal note, I have been using the drug for more than fourteen years and at this point have experienced no adverse side effects that I am aware of. There are countless men all over the world who are successfully treating their hair loss with Propecia. In my opinion, at this point there is no known reason to be concerned about long term adverse side effects.
Hope this helps,
Host of The Bald Truth Radio Show
Founder, American Hair Loss Association
Founder and Director of Consumer/Patient Affairs, International Alliance of Hair Restoration Surgeons (IAHRS.ORG)