Hair drug, male breast cancer linked

August 10, 2011

Government regulatory agency Health Canada has issued a consumer alert that finasteride, a drug used to treat male pattern hair loss and enlarged prostate, can increase the risk of breast cancer, Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports.

Ottawa, Ontario - Government regulatory agency Health Canada has issued a consumer alert that finasteride, a drug used to treat male pattern hair loss and enlarged prostate, can increase the risk of breast cancer, Toronto’s Globe and Mail reports.

The drug is marketed by Merck as Propecia, a 1 mg formulation to treat baldness, and Proscar, a 5 mg formulation to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. Generic products also are available.

Previous studies have identified adverse reactions to the 5 mg format, including an increased risk of prostate cancer.

According to Health Canada, a small number of breast cancer cases have been reported worldwide among patients who took the drug in either dose.