Concerned about Finasteride Safety, Side Effects

QuestionsConcerned about Finasteride Safety, Side Effects
Ward Dean, MD asked 8 years ago
Hello. I know you don’t remember me. I used to live in Pensacola until 2004 and you allowed me to call you at home. I want to ask you about Finasteride. I am now 69 years old and have an enlarged prostate. The VA wants to give me this medicine and I am concerned about the side effects. Can you tell me after say, six months of using this, what percentage of men have lingering side effects after stopping this medicine?

Is there a supplement you can recommend that does not have negative side effects? Reading on the internet is often confusing. Is the high-grade cancer risk significant? Anything you can tell me about Finasteride would be greatly appreciated.

Do you still have a practice in Pensacola? I am wanting to move back down there.

I should also add I have been taking saw palmetto and beta sistosterol for six months with no improvement at all.

Thanks very much for your help.


1 Answers
Ward Dean, MD answered 8 years ago
Hello, Sam,
I definitely do remember you.  I left Pensacola myself in 2005, for a seven-year sabbatical, courtesy of the IRS and the BOP.
In addition to Saw Palmetto, and beta-sitosterol, make sure your formula contains pygeum and stinging nettles.  Also, Swedish flower pollen (brand name Cernilton) is used as a drug for BPH in Sweden (available from Life Extension)—but I think you can do the same with generic bee pollen.  
If that combination doesn’t dramatically improve your symptoms, I think Finasteride would be worth trying.  I would not be concerned about the possible increased incidence of high-grade prostate cancer that has been attributed to finasteride.  I think that was likely to be a statistical myth.1  
My recommendation if your PSA begins to climb, is to avoid a biopsy of the prostate, and begin an aggressive regimen of anti-cancer, PSA-lowering substances.  I think more harm is generally done by prostate biopsies, and surgery, than by conservative but aggressive approaches to normalize prostate function.
Let me know when you’re back in town, 
Ward Dean, MD
Redman MW, Tangen  CM, Goodman PJ,   Lucia  MS, Coltman, Jr. CA, and Thompson IM.  Finasteride Does Not Increase the Risk of High-Grade Prostate Cancer: A Bias-Adjusted Modeling Approach, Cancer Prev Res August 2008 1; 174