Baldness drug Finasteride (Propecia) reduces alcohol cravings in men

A new study, led by researcher Michael S Irwig, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, has revealed how a single drug may be beneficial in both- lowering hairfall in men, and curbing alcohol cravings too.

This single drug - Finasteride (Propecia), used to treat hair loss - may be efficient in curbing alcohol addiction in men.

Often, a higher dose of this very drug is prescribed to patients suffering from an enlarged prostate, the study adds.

The researchers took into consideration only younger men, most of them under 46 years of age, and attempted to find the drug's sexual side effects. Close analysis of these men, all of whom had quit taking the medication, still experienced sexual side effects including erectile dysfunction and lower sex drive.

Though it is not yet clear how the drug, and its associated side effects may play a role in curbing alcohol addiction in males, the researchers speculate that this may be due to the ability of this drug to interfere with the production of hormones such as neurosteroids, which are linked to increased alcohol consumption.

"Finasteride use leads to decreased concentrations of important hormones in the brain called neurosteroids. Because this is a preliminary report, further research is needed on the effects of Finasteride in the human brain," Irwig said. "This is an important step towards better understanding the breadth of side effects in humans from the drug Finasteride."

Irwig recruited 83 healthy men for the study, all of them between 21 to 46 years of age, having side effects associated with the drug, even though they had stopped taking it.  Before starting with the hair loss medication, 63 men were known to consume atleast one alcoholic drink. Of these, 65 percent men cut back their consumption of alcohol, and 32 percent noticed no change whatsoever in their drinking habits.

Eighteen men of the 83 completely gave up drinking.

Though it might be too early to jump to conclusions and start prescribing this medication to patients having alcohol addiction, it may be considered as a treatment option. Further studies may help confirm the efficacy of the drug as a treatment for alcohol addicts. 

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