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Finasteride (By mouth)

Treats benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate). Also treats hair loss in men.

What works?

Learn more about the effects of these drugs. The most reliable research is summed up for you in our featured article.

Note: Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not use finasteride or handle the crushed or broken tablets. Finasteride can cause birth defects in male babies. Finasteride is used to treat men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and male pattern hair loss, also called androgenetic alopecia. BPH is caused by an enlarged prostate. Men with BPH usually have difficulty urinating, a… Read more
Brand names include
Propecia, Proscar
Drug classes About this
Alopecia Agent, Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy Agent

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Finasteride provides relief of symptoms related to benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Finasteride, when compared to placebo and active comparators, improves long‐term urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitor drugs, such as finasteride or dutasteride, reduce the risk prostate cancer in men who have routine prostate cancer screening

Five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitor drugs have potential as chemopreventive agents. Reduction of prostate cancer was similar between racial groups, age groups (aged 65 years or older compared to younger age groups) and those with or without a family history of prostate cancer. Reduction of prostate cancer was limited to men who had a baseline prostate specific antigen (PSA) values less than 4.0 ng/mL. However, use of five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitors may also increase the risk of high‐grade prostate cancer in men undergoing prostate cancer screening. Future research is needed to determine if the use of five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitors can reduce prostate cancer in men who are not being regularly screened for prostate cancer. Future studies should also determine whether five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitors can reduce death and prostate cancer death and further evaluate the risk of developing high‐grade prostate cancer.

Meta-analysis of finasteride for perioperative bleeding in patients undergoing transurethral resection of prostate

Bibliographic details: Zhu Y C, Zhong L, Wei Q.  Meta-analysis of finasteride for perioperative bleeding in patients undergoing transurethral resection of prostate. Chinese Journal of Evidence-Based Medicine 2008; 8(6): 456-460

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Summaries for consumers

Finasteride provides relief of symptoms related to benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Finasteride, when compared to placebo and active comparators, improves long‐term urinary tract symptoms associated with benign prostatic hyperplasia.

Five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitor drugs, such as finasteride or dutasteride, reduce the risk prostate cancer in men who have routine prostate cancer screening

Five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitor drugs have potential as chemopreventive agents. Reduction of prostate cancer was similar between racial groups, age groups (aged 65 years or older compared to younger age groups) and those with or without a family history of prostate cancer. Reduction of prostate cancer was limited to men who had a baseline prostate specific antigen (PSA) values less than 4.0 ng/mL. However, use of five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitors may also increase the risk of high‐grade prostate cancer in men undergoing prostate cancer screening. Future research is needed to determine if the use of five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitors can reduce prostate cancer in men who are not being regularly screened for prostate cancer. Future studies should also determine whether five‐alpha‐reductase inhibitors can reduce death and prostate cancer death and further evaluate the risk of developing high‐grade prostate cancer.

Treatments for female pattern hair loss

The most common type of hair loss in women is FPHL, also known as androgenic alopecia. Unlike men, women do not go bald, but have hair thinning predominantly over the top and front of the head. It can occur at any time, from puberty until later in life. However, it occurs more frequently in postmenopausal women.

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