BPH Medication and Cancer

BPH Medication and Cancer 645d501292b54.png

BPH Medication and Cancer

Clinical trials have shown that finasteride and dutasteride, which are both 5-alpha inhibitors, may be associated with gynecomastia, breast pain, tenderness, and even breast cancer.

According to an article published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information,

“Case reports and clinical trial results have suggested that treatment with 5ARIs may be associated with male breast cancer, a rare condition with a lifetime risk of 0.1%”.

Though the relative risk is low, a connection between breast cancer in men and the use of 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors do exist.

The “Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)”, which is the government agency responsible for regulating medicines and medical devices in the UK, published clinical data regarding the connection between male breast cancer and patients treated with the 5-alpha inhibitor finasteride.

The research states that 50 cases of male breast cancer have been reported worldwide with the use of 5 mg finasteride (also known by the brand name Proscar) and three cases have been reported with the use of 1 mg finasteride (also known by the brand name Propecia).

The researchers go on to state that:

“Most cases reported with Proscar use occurred within 5 years of starting treatment.”

The data from these trials showed that there was a trend towards male breast cancer occurring more frequently in patients who had received finasteride, than in those who did not.

According to information published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, finasteride could potentially cause male breast cancer due to altering hormone levels.

The administration of 5-alpha reductase inhibitors, such as finasteride leads to altered oestrogen/testosterone balance. Research has shown that the role of oestrogen in breast carcinoma is considered important.

Finasteride also converts testosterone to oestradiol and androstenedione is converted to oestrone in fat cells.  As a result, either the slight increase in oestrogen or the reduction in the ratio of androgens to that of oestrogens (due to the 5-alpha reductase inhibitor’s effect on reducing DHT levels), or both could play a significant role in finasteride-associated male breast cancer.

Though the incidence of breast cancer development during treatment with 5-alpha inhibitors may be low, it is still important that patients are aware of this possibility.

In fact, following the aforementioned report, the United Kingdom’s national drug agency established a drug warning label to be included with prescriptions for finasteride, due to the potential though the unlikely risk of developing male breast cancer.

In our next article, we will take a look at the signs and symptoms of male breast cancer, and the actions that should be taken if any of them are present.

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