Posts Tagged ‘finasteride’

Saw Palmetto for the Enlarged Prostate Gland-What You Need to Know

January 23, 2015

Over 30 million Americans suffer from the enlarged prostate gland. The symptoms include getting up at night to urinate, frequency of urination, and dribbling after urination. Constantly rushing to the bathroom is a common complaint among the millions of men who develop an enlarged prostate gland, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). This blog will discuss the treatment with the herbal product, saw palmetto.

Saw palmetto has been used to treat urologic conditions since the days of the ancient Egyptians. It is a common non-medical approach to the enlarged prostate gland.

Here are five reasons you should skip saw palmetto and head to the doctor for advice instead.
1. It’s no better than a placebo.
Researchers have shown that saw palmetto is no better than a placebo at alleviating symptoms. Large studies have also shown the same effect in scientific studies comparing saw palmetto to placebo.

2. Its dosage may vary.
Even if you wanted to try taking a regular dose of saw palmetto, there’s currently no guarantee that the supplement you choose contains what it says it does. One study analyzed six different brands of the supplement and found that half of them contained less than 20 percent of the amount stated on the label.

3. It might not be safe.
Saw palmetto doesn’t seem to have any major side effects, but some users have reported headaches, nausea, and dizziness. However, we haven’t seen studies proving that saw palmetto is actually safe for the long term. In addition, supplements, including saw palmetto, are not well regulated by the FDA, and it’s not uncommon for wily manufacturers to distribute tainted products. You may think you’re taking a “natural” herbal remedy, but for all you know, you could be taking prescription, or even experimental, drugs.

4. It might mask another problem.
If you have symptoms of an enlarged prostate, including frequent urination, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an enlarged prostate. The same symptoms might pop up if you have prostatitis (an inflamed or infected prostate gland) or a bladder infection that can be treated with an antibiotic. Or the symptoms might even be a side effect of another medication. If supplements relieve your symptoms for some reason, you might neglect treating another ailment.

5. It’s a waste of money.
Instead of throwing your dollars away on saw palmetto supplements, see your doctor to get a proper diagnosis and find out about approved drugs that can help. Common treatments include alpha-blockers and 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. Visit Consumer Reports’ Best Buy Drugs to find out more about drugs it recommends for treating enlarged prostate.

Bottom Line: The enlarged prostate is a common problem affecting millions of American men. Saw palmetto is an over the counter non-medical, herbal supplement that probably has minimal or even no benefit at all. All men with symptoms prostate enlargement should seek medical care as solutions are available.

Propecia May Make More Than Your Hair Fall

August 21, 2013

Propecia containing finasteride is used for controlling male pattern baldness or hair loss. New data is now appearing that suggests that the use of Propecia may result in sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction or impotence, decreased libido or sex drive, and male infertility. Even after discontinuing the use of Propecia, the side effects can last for up to three months.

What is more frightening is that a study from Sweden showed that users of Propecia could experience permanent erectile dysfunction. In 2012, the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that almost 96 percent of men reported some Propecia sexual dysfunction for more than a year after usage, and 20 percent experienced sexual side effects for more than six years.
So what is man who is losing his hair to do? I suggest that you speak to your primary care physician or your dermatologist and discuss these side effects. If you are currently taking the medication and are experiencing sexual side effects such as decreased libido or erectile dysfunction, I suggest you consider discounting the medication.

Hair Today, Sex Gone Tomorrow-Sexual Side Effects Of Propecia

July 13, 2012

Would You Rather Be Bald Or Impotent?

For more than 15 years Propecia (finasteride) has been prescribed for men for treating male pattern baldness. Now new research documented that the drug is associated with sexual side effects including erectile dysfunction (ED), decrease in libido, and decrease in orgasms. This article will discuss the new research and what you need to know if you are taking or planning to take Propecia.

Male Pattern Baldness

Researchers from George Washington University interviewed 54 men under age 40 who reported side effects for three months or more after taking Propecia. None of the men reported having any sexual, medical or psychiatric problems before they took the drug. Some of the men took the drug for a few weeks, others took it for years, but all of them reported side effects such as erectile dysfunction, decreased sexual drive, problems with orgasms, shrinking and painful genitals, even some neurological problems, such as depression, anxiety and mental fogginess. The side effects lasted for up to a year after stopping the use of Propecia.

In normal men testosterone is converted to DHT and the DHT is responsible for male pattern hair loss. Propecia works by blocking the conversion of testosterone into DHT. Initially finasteride, the active ingredient in Propecia, was originally developed in 1992 by drug giant Merck as a treatment for men with enlarged prostate glands and sold as the drug Proscar. Propecia was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1997, and at that time Merck noted that a few men reported sexual side effects during clinical trials of the drug.

In 2011, the FDA mandated a label change for Propecia and Proscar, the drug used to treat benign enlargement of the prostate gland, warning that some patients reported erectile dysfunction that lasted after patients stopped taking it; in April, the agency updated the label to include reports of libido, ejaculation and orgasm disorders.
But researchers say many physicians who prescribe finasteride are likely not aware that the side effects of the drug may haunt patients for years.

So what should a young man with early hair loss do?
First, more research will likely be needed before doctors can know for sure that the symptoms are completely attributed to the drug. At the present time doctors have no way of knowing which patients will suffer the long-term side effects. It’s possible that an unknown genetic factor drives how individual men respond to the drug.

Erectile dysfunction is more than just testosterone. There are so many things that go into the male erectile response. You have to be very careful before you attribute it to one cause, like Propecia.

Although there are doctors who would not advise men to take this drug to treat a cosmetic problem like hair loss, many physicians continue to prescribe Propecia.

Bottom Line: I think each man needs to have a discussion with his physician about the sexual side effects of Propecia before taking the medication. After all the FDA said only 36 of 945 men who took Propecia in clinical trials reported any adverse sexual side effects. The number of men who will experience these long-lasting side effects is relatively small, likely around 3 percent of all men who take the drug. Between ED and baldness-I’d rather pass on both problems!

An Apple a Day May Keep the Doctor Away-and Proscar or Avodart May Keep Prostate Cancer at Bay

October 23, 2010

Prostate cancer is the most common non-skin malignancy in men and is responsible for more deaths than any other cancer, except for lung cancer. However, microscopic evidence of prostate cancer is found at autopsy in many if not most men. The American Cancer Society (ACS) estimated that about 218,890 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the United States during 2007. About 1 man in 6 will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during his lifetime, but only 1 man in 34 will die of it. More than 1.8 million men in the United States are survivors of prostate cancer.

There is some evidence that links exercise to better prostate health.  Exercise improves overall physical and mental health, so most medical professionals recommend at least a half an hour of exercise per week. Some studies indicate that regular exercise increases oxygen flow to the soft tissues of the body and helps to control glucose levels in the bloodstream. High levels of glucose may help fuel prostate cancer cells.

A healthy prostate diet is worth considering. High-fat and low-fiber diets and obesity seem to contribute to a higher risk of prostate cancer.  Some researchers believe that cancerous prostate cells can feed on fat, especially fats found in red meat and dairy products. Omega 3 fatty acids, found in fish, soy, and flaxseed is known as the “heart-healthy” fats. Now we believe that the Omega-3 fatty acids are prostate healthy as well. Countries, like China and Japan, whose diets are based on fish proteins rather than red meat have much lower rates of prostate cancer. Soy products include tofu, soymilk, soy creamers, soy yogurts, soy ice creams, and tofu burgers.  Red grapes, grape juice, green teas, and red wine contain anti-oxidants that can neutralize cancer-causing agents within the body. Lycopene found in tomatoes, and beta-carotene may be beneficial in helping to protect the body from the risk of prostate cancer.  Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables may help boost the body’s cancer-fighting abilities.

Supplements such as vitamin E and selenium have been linked to a drastically decreased risk of prostate cancer. Studies of vitamin E and selenium seem to benefit those who were deficient in either Vitamin E or selenium, or who were ex-smokers. Studies have also noted that a daily regimen of aspirin or ibuprofen lowers risks of prostate cancer.

A few years ago a long-term study using the 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, Proscar or Avodart, lowers the risk of prostate cancer.  This study as well as others has shown a 25% reduction in prostate cancer.  However, the risk of developing a high-grade cancer or a more aggressive cancer was greater in those men taking finasteride as compared to a placebo or sugar pill.

So what is a man to do?  If you are at risk for prostate cancer, i.e., you have a relative such as a father, brother, uncle with prostate cancer, are Afro-American, or are obese and consume a high fat and meat diet, then you should talk to your doctor about prostate cancer prevention using one of the agents like Proscar or Avodart.  For the rest of the men: get an annual digital rectal exam and a PSA blood test once a year after age 50 or after age 40 if you are at high risk for prostate cancer.

Bottom Line: Knowledge is your best weapon for good prostate health and avoiding prostate cancer. Some lifestyles, eating habits, and dietary supplements are thought to lead to lower levels of prostate cancer, as well as other cancers. Nobody can guarantee prostate cancer prevention through behavior, diet, treatment, or medicine, but there are things you can do to improve your odds.