Long-Term Consequences of Finasteride versus Placebo

Categories: Winter 2016


Research efforts continue to assess the effectiveness and safety of finasteride, a drug used to treat hair loss in men (Propecia or generics) or enlarged prostate (Proscar or generics). Enlarged prostate is also known as benign prostatic hyperplastic, or BPH.

A recent study examined the longterm consequences of finasteride versus placebo in 13,395 patients participating in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. The randomized study arm (finasteride versus placebo) lasted for 7 years.

Patients in the study who took finasteride had a 10% higher risk of new claims of depression and a 6% lower risk of having procedures for BPH-related events, such as lower urinary tract symptoms. There were no other differences in rates of long-term consequences in the two study arms.

Finasteride works by blocking the body’s production of a male hormone called dihydrotestosterone. Finasteride may help control conditions of baldness and BPH, but it will not cure them. If men discontinue treatment, the conditions will return.

See the QUEST article “Finasteride for Enlarged Prostate and Baldness: Balancing Treatment, Safety, and Side Effects” in the Summer/Fall 2015 issue for further reporting on the risks of taking finasteride.

J Natl Cancer Inst. 2016 Aug 26;108(12). pii: djw168. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw168. Print 2016 Dec.

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