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Propecia is a drug used primarily to treat hair loss 1. Although generally safe for use in men, there can be side effects that vary from one person to another. One potential side effect, although somewhat rare, may be an increase in abdominal fat and overall weight gain 3.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Propecia is the brand name for the generic drug finasteride 14. For men with hair loss, Propecia may increase the number of scalp hairs but won’t increase the amount of body hair, according to Drugs.com 1. The hair growth only lasts for the duration the drug is taken and if stopped, the hair will be lost.
Propecia works by blocking the action of the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme 1. This enzyme changes testosterone to a different hormone, dihydroxytestosterone, which causes hair loss in males.
A study at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, led by Y. Song, and published in the journal “Prostate” in February 2008, looked at the effects of body weight changes in participants in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial taking finasteride over seven years and how it related to a risk of prostate cancer. They found that although men on finasteride didn’t exhibit weight gain in general, those who did were at a higher risk for prostate cancer. They concluded that genetic characteristics or environmental exposures can affect finasteride outcomes on weight gain and prostate cancer 3.
Since depression is associated with a reduced interest in exercise and an increase in food consumption in some people, it’s possible that weight and fat gains noticed by men on Propecia could be tied to this side effect 13. If you are taking Propecia and notice weight gain or depressive symptoms, you should check with your doctor about lifestyle changes or switching to another medication 13.
Propecia is not recommended for children or women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant 1. Finasteride can be absorbed through the skin and cause birth defects in male babies, so it’s important that even if a woman touches the drug, she should be careful to wash the area immediately, reports Drugs.com 1. Common side effects include chills, dizziness and a decrease in libido, ejaculate and the inability to have or keep an erection.
The effects of the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme also cause prostate enlargement, but Propecia manipulates and lowers the androgen levels in the prostate gland to shrink the gland and to improve symptoms and urinary flow rate, reports Ray Sahelian, M.D., best-selling author of “Mind Boosters” and other books. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images) NEW YORK - JUNE 26: The pharmaceutical drugs Proscar and Propecia, both which lower the levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), have been found in recent studies promises to prevent prostrate cancer in men are seen June 26, 2003 in New York City. NEW YORK - JUNE 26: The pharmaceutical drugs Proscar and Propecia, both which lower the levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), have been found in recent studies promises to prevent prostrate cancer in men are seen June 26, 2003 in New York City.
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