Medication for male pattern baldness may also help decrease alcohol consumption

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Finasteride – a synthetic drug that is used to treat male pattern hair loss and enlarged prostate problems – may also help to decrease alcohol consumption, a new study reports.

The drug appears to contribute to the adverse effects of alcohol, causing extreme sedation, intoxication and even memory impairment. And while finasteride hasn't been used to treat alcoholism, the George Washington University study's results are significant, researchers said, as they are the first to link the drug's use to changes in alcohol consumption.

Finasteride and sexual side effects

The study included 83 male participants who had developed long-term sexual side effects from using finasteride – even though they had stopped taking the medication for at least 90 days. As researchers studied the sexual side effects, they noticed that most of the men had also reduced their alcohol consumption – 65 percent reported a decrease in their drinking, while 18 of the 63 men became completely abstinent.

The men reported that, during and after using finasteride, they had more problems tolerating alcohol, experiencing symptoms like dizziness, anxiety and lethargy. They also said that they would become intoxicated after fewer drinks and that they experienced less euphoria during consumption.

Role of neurosteroids and alcohol

Michael S. Irwig, assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University and author of the study, said that while the research is preliminary, more studies would be helpful to determine how neurosteroids – brain hormones – relate to drinking patterns.

"I hope that this study will generate more research on the effects of finasteride in humans as it relates to alcohol," Irwig said in a press release.

He also noted that only about 5 percent of men who use finasteride for male pattern baldness develop sexual side effects, so the study may not represent typical patterns found in the broader population.

Results of the research will be published in the November issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Source: Science Daily

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