Do These Prostate Drugs Do More Harm Than Good?
The FDA just announced that the label of a popular prostate drug must now carry a new warning.
The common drug is sold by Merck to help treat enlarged prostates and male pattern baldness. The FDA now says that it’s been linked to decreased sex drive and the inability to ejaculate or achieve orgasm. And according to the agency’s warning, some users reported that these side effects continued for months after stopping the drugs.
But it turns out that an impaired sex life may be the least worrisome effect.
Millions of men suffer from enlarged prostates. And many are taking this class of drugs to ease their symptoms, and stave off cancer too. But instead of preventing the disease, these drugs could put patients at even greater risk.
Preventing Cancer… or Causing It?
The US Food and Drug Administration recently reviewed two studies. It found that some drugs for enlarged prostate can protect against some forms of prostate cancer. But the drugs may also increase the risk of a high-grade prostate cancer that spreads rapidly to other organs. And these particular cancer cells are difficult to treat.
So if you’re taking one of these drugs, you may have been deceived. You could just be trading one prostate problem for another that is much deadlier.
So what drug is potentially so deadly? It’s called finasteride and it goes by the common names Proscar and Propecia. Another drug called Avodart (dutasteride) carries similar warnings. Both of these drugs are 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs). They contain a synthetic compound that blocks the hormone, DHT, which causes the prostate to become enlarged.
They have been marketed for many years as a cure for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). That’s a condition where the prostate grows and obstructs the bladder, causing many problems. It affects men as they age. The drugs are also used as a treatment for male-pattern hair loss.
Although the FDA has revised the drug labels to warn of their dangers, they claim that the benefits outweigh the risks. “This risk appears to be low, but healthcare professionals should be aware of this safety information, and weigh the known benefits against the potential risks when deciding to start or continue treatment with 5-ARIs in men,” the agency stated.
But it’s too little too late. More than five million men have already taken the drugs. And the question is: How many will lose their lives because of it?
The Deadly Cure
Finasteride and dutasteride were approved by the FDA in 1992 and 2001, respectively.
Although the drugs were originally produced to treat enlarged prostates and baldness, researchers believed they could help prevent cancer, too.
So the FDA included them in its Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. Two randomized studies were done on about 27,000 men considered to have an increased risk for prostate cancer.
In one study, the men took 5 mgs of finasteride daily for seven years. Those at high risk for prostate cancer were excluded. In the other study, they took dutasteride for four years. Both studies used a control group taking a placebo.
In both studies, the men who took the drugs reduced their risk of developing prostate cancer. Their risk dropped by 26% with finasteride and 23% with dutasteride.
However, those who did develop cancer while taking the drugs were more likely to have an aggressive form of prostate cancer. This prompted an earlier, lukewarm FDA warning about the drugs (before the latest warning about sexual side effects).
Dr. David Samadi is Vice Chairman of the Department of Urology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. He’s also Chief of Robotics and Minimally Invasive Surgery and an expert in prostate cancer treatment. Commenting on these results, he said:
“Interestingly, both trials did show a decrease in the overall development of prostate cancer when using these medications. However, when even a slight increase is shown in the development of deadly forms of prostate cancer, it’s imperative that we investigate the use of these drugs for the treatment of BPH.”
This is another case of the FDA not acting forcefully to protect the public. Although it has pulled dozens of drugs off the market in recent years, the deadly side effects of those drugs were discovered only after they had been used by thousands – and even millions – of people.
For many, it was too late…
Remember Vioxx? In 2004, the pain medication was withdrawn from the market. Dr. David Graham is the former Associate Director for Science and Medicine for the FDA. He was the whistleblower in that case. In his testimony, he discussed a report which showed that 28,000 cases of heart attack or cardiac death had been caused by Vioxx.
Dr. Graham emphasized this estimate was conservative. He believes 88,000 to 139,000 Americans were affected and that 30-40% of them lost their lives.
At the time, the FDA was widely criticized for its negligence and ties to Big Pharma. It was also hammered for its slow response.
Yet nothing has changed…
5 Natural Prostate Protectors
If you’re a man taking drugs for an enlarged prostate, you’re probably worried that you might be at risk for a high grade of prostate cancer. If so, make sure to check with your doctor. If you are at risk, consider stopping the treatment.
To lower your risk of prostate cancer, you can add cooked tomatoes to your diet. They contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene. It’s also found in guavas, watermelon, and pink grapefruit. Studies have shown that lycopene not only prevents prostate cancer, it can also reduce the size of tumors you may develop.
You may also consider saw palmetto as a treatment for enlarged prostate. It’s an all-natural solution that’s been used by Native Americans in the Southeast for generations. Clinical trials show that it helps maintain a healthy prostate. It’s often combined with nettle extract for its synergistic effects.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “Some studies show that saw palmetto is as effective in treating symptoms as finasteride (Proscar) without side effects such as loss of libido. Other studies suggest that saw palmetto may actually shrink the size of the prostate gland.”[Ed. Note: There are plenty of safe, effective ways to protect your prostate. Unfortunately, a lot of so-called prostate “solutions” are ineffective and even dangerous. To protect yourself, you need to know the serious mistakes modern medicine is making about prostate cancer… and the simple, natural ways you can keep yourself healthy. To learn more, please watch this special video presentation now…]