Finasteride for Hair Loss May Also Lower Heart Disease Risk

Alex Rodriguez

Written by Alex Rodriguez


Finasteride, commonly known for treating hair loss and enlarged prostate conditions, is making waves in the medical community for another reason. Recent research suggests that it could play a role in lowering cholesterol and possibly reducing the risk of heart disease.

Insights from the Latest Research

A study from the Journal of Lipid Research has turned the spotlight on finasteride after analyzing data from men over 50, using information gathered between 2009 and 2016 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The study didn’t stop at human data; it also looked at the effects on male mice.

The focus was on individuals without a history of prostate inflammation, infection, or cancer. The findings in men were quite significant – finasteride users showed reduced total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels. In mice, the drug decreased cholesterol levels, slowed the progression of atherosclerosis, and reduced liver inflammation.

How Finasteride Works

Finasteride operates by inhibiting a specific protein that activates testosterone in hair follicles and the prostate gland. Interestingly, it has also been pinpointed as a potential target for treating opioid abuse, showcasing its diverse range of possible applications.

Study Limitations and Expert Opinions

However, the study isn’t without its limitations. Differences between mice and humans, a relatively small sample size of men taking finasteride, and lack of clear information on the duration and dosage of the drug treatment present challenges in interpreting the results.

Dr. Rigved Tadwalkar, a consultant cardiologist, finds the study’s potential fascinating but also warns of its significant limitations. He underscores the need for more research to establish a solid cause-and-effect relationship. Dr. Samantha Lee also chimed in, expressing surprise over finasteride’s newfound potential as a cholesterol-lowering agent. She points out that current advances in cardiology are more geared towards preventing atherosclerosis.

Adding to the conversation, Dr. Nikki Bart calls for a prospective randomized control trial to definitively confirm the benefits of finasteride on cholesterol levels and plaque buildup in the human body.

Potential Side Effects of Finasteride

While the benefits of finasteride may be expanding, it’s essential to consider its potential side effects, which can include sexual dysfunction, depression, infertility, breast swelling or tenderness, breast cancer, rashes, and more. It’s particularly advised that those with severe bladder or liver problems steer clear of the drug. Additionally, finasteride can interact with certain heart medications, so patients must consult with healthcare providers before starting treatment.

Looking Forward

The intriguing findings around finasteride and cholesterol levels open up new potential for the drug beyond its current uses. However, with its side effects and the study’s limitations, the medical community remains cautiously optimistic. Further research, particularly human trials, will be crucial to fully understand finasteride’s role in heart health and whether it can truly benefit those at risk for heart disease.