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We’ve all seen the commercials on TV for cures for male pattern baldness. With the right treatment, men can have longer, fuller, hair that will make them look younger. Unfortunately, many of us find out the hard way that beauty often comes with a price.

In June 2011, the FDA issued a safety alert regarding a group of drugs, known as 5-alpha reductase inhibitors used to treat male pattern baldness. The warning advised that the generic drug Finasteride, marketed as Propecia, competing brands, Avodart, and Proscar can increase a patients risk for prostate cancer.

This is ironic because before these drugs were approved to treat male pattern baldness, they were used to treat prostate problems.

Two FDA studies revealed that Avodart and Proscar decrease the incidence of lower risk forms of prostate cancer, but increase the risk of high-grade, more aggressive prostate cancer. Propecia has 1/5th the active ingredients as Proscar, but Merck must now include more information about the risks on their labels.

During Previous studies, Merck advised that less than 2% of men taking Propecia experienced temporary sexual side effects such as decreased desire, erectile dysfunction, or decreased semen. These side effects went away once the patients stopped taking Propecia.

We all want to be beautiful. It’s unfair that some of us are born with blemishes, or go bald sooner than others. We then turn to surgical procedures and medications just so we can look like everyone else. But sometimes, it’s just not worth it, especially if it increases our risk for cancer.

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