A widely used drug to treat enlarged prostate — and off-label to treat hair loss — may increase a man’s risk for diabetes, high cholesterol and fatty liver disease. It may also worsen erectile dysfunction.
Avodart (dutasteride) is approved to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), the medical term for an enlarged prostate. In a retrospective study, researchers looked back at 2 groups of men with BPH for between 3 and 3.5 years. One group was prescribed Avodart and the other Flomax (tamsulosin), a different kind of prostate medication. Avodart works by reducing the size of the prostate, while Flomax relaxes the prostate muscle.
Compared to the Flomax group, those taking Avodart had higher blood sugar and lipid levels, and reported worse sexual function, the researchers wrote in the journal Hormone Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigation.
“In order to reduce the negative impact on overall health and quality of life, physicians need to discuss with their patients the potential adverse side effects of taking Avodart,” corresponding author Abdulmaged M. Traish, MBA, PhD, of the Boston University School of Medicine said in a statement.
As we’ve reported in the past, if you do suffer from BPH and you and your physician have determined medication is necessary, Consumer Reports recommends the generic drug doxazosin as a first-line treatment. If your doctor determines a combination of drugs is necessary, the magazine recommends Proscar (finasteride), which is also available as a generic.