Finasteride Prostate Cancer Treatment – Miracle Cure or Carcinogen

In June 1992, the FDA approved finasteride for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BHP), enlargement of the prostate gland. Although studies showed that the new drug (sold as Proscar) produced only modest benefits in small numbers of men, it was immediately accepted as an alternative to conventional treatment with surgery (TURP).

In 1997 the FDA approved finasteride for treating baldness. Sold this time under the trade name Propecia, it was shown to prevent hair loss due to hereditary male pattern baldness in those who take a small daily dose, although it did not work for women – even going so far as to cause birth defects.

In July 2003, Thompson, IM; Goodman PJ, et al published an article in the New England Medical Journal 349 (3) (215-24) titled “The influence of finasteride on the development of prostate cancer,” in which they discussed their latest findings concerning the drug and expressed their concerns; and on May 18, 2008, a Cancer Prevention Research that was published online laid it all to rest, stating specifically that “Finasteride Does Not Increase the Risk of High-Grade Prostate Cancer.” This online publication was in fact titled likewise and designated as ‘a bias-adjusted modeling approach.’

Finasteride has been known for a while as one of two medications that block the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that fuels prostate cancer growth and progression – the other being dutasteride. By this process, prostate cancer tumors generally cease to grow and often start to shrink.

These two medications have also been explored for their potential to prevent the occurrence of the disease – and with some degree of success too – except that while finasteride appears effective against the development of lower-grade prostate tumors, it seems to lead to a greater chance of higher grade cancers occurring in the patient.

This negation of an overall survival improvement suggested that finasteride might in fact not be a blessing at all. However, as depicted earlier on, more recent research – an update published in 2008 clearly showed that finasteride did not increase the percentage of higher grade cancers. If anything “finasteride reduces the incidence of prostate cancer by 30%.” As a matter of fact, finasteride may even decrease the overall PSA levels by as much 50% or more!

The most common side effects of finasteride are decreased libido, ejaculation disorders, and impotence.

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