A synthetic drug for male pattern baldness may be even more dangerous than we thought

Double jeopardy

It’s a fact as old as time: Men want us to find them attractive. Who can blame them? We are fabulous.

And since so many of us find a full head of hair attractive, it’s no surprise that guys will go to great lengths to keep their hair.

So when Propecia hit the market nearly 15 years ago, they went for it — big. And some had good results with putting a halt to male pattern baldness.

But for others, Propecia seems to have been a disaster.

A pattern develops

As I told you a couple of months ago, one significant side effect associated with popping Propecia is sexual dysfunction. Which is a pretty wicked irony. I mean, a man takes a drug to save his hair hoping he can attract us ladies, but then the drug’s side effect might leave him, well…unable to seal the deal.

So for years, men were told that if they simply stopped taking Propecia they’d be back in the saddle. But a new study reveals that many men may continue to experience a range of dysfunctions (low libido, erectile dysfunction, problems with orgasm) for months and even years after discontinuing the drug.

Obviously, that alone is a huge problem. But as bad as it is, it may serve as a red flag for a much more dangerous problem.

Recently, when the FDA reviewed the results of prostate cancer prevention trials, they found two very confusing results.

One result shows that use of Propecia and Proscar (the brand name for the same drug, used to treat enlarged prostate) was linked with a 26 percent overall lower risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer.

But a second result makes that good news almost irrelevant.

The drugs were also linked to an increased risk of being diagnosed with high-grade prostate cancer — a level that ranks at least eight on a 10-grade scale. Only about one in three men diagnosed with this stage of prostate cancer will live longer than five years.

The FDA will now require these drugs to carry a warning about the risk of this very aggressive prostate cancer.

Of course when weighing the benefits of keeping your hair with the benefits of avoiding high-grade prostate cancer, you and I might think that, rather than issue a warning, it’s time to pull this drug off the shelves.

But then, we don’t work for the FDA.

Sources:
“Persistent Sexual Side Effects of Finasteride for Male Pattern Hair Loss” Journal of Sexual Medicine, Published online ahead of print 3/18/11, onlinelibrary.wiley.com
“FDA Drug Safety Communication: 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs) may increase the risk of a more serious form of prostate cancer” FDA Drug Safety Communication, 6/9/11, fda.gov
“FDA Warns of Prostate Cancer Risk With Reductase Inhibitors” Roxanne Nelson, Medscape, 6/9/11, medscape.com

Get urgent health alerts, warnings and insights delivered straight to your inbox