In 2003, the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial (PCPT) found that men who had taken finasteride for seven years were 30 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than those taking a placebo. (Another study found a similar reduction with the related drug dutasteride.) Now, after an average of 16 years of follow-up, the new analysis has found that men in PCPT who had taken finasteride years ago continue to have a 21 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer.
While PCPT did originally find that finasteride takers were more likely to be diagnosed with high-grade cancer, subsequent analyses have concluded that this concern was unwarranted.
Finasteride, at one-fifth the dose used to treat prostate enlargement, is also used to treat hair loss in men; the brand name of that lower dose is Propecia. Since the studies did not include such lower doses, it’s unknown what effect they have on cancer risk.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see New Advice (Again) About PSA Testing.