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Male Baldness Drug May Lower Interest in Alcohol

Update Date: Jun 14, 2013 05:56 PM EDT
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An anti-baldness drug may make some men lose interest in alcohol, a new study revealed.

Scientists found that some men who take the drug finasteride (Propecia) to slow a receding hairline also tend to drink less alcohol after taking the medication.

Researchers at George Washington University found that two thirds of men who take Propecia and who develop side effects like low sex drive also decrease their alcohol consumption.

What's more, the study revealed that this side effect continued even after these men stopped taking the once-a day pill used to treat moderate male pattern hair loss.

The study, which involved 535 men under the age of 46 taking finasteride, revealed that 99 percent of men had experienced new hair growth or no further hair loss after two years.

Finasteride works by stopping the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is believed to be the active hormone in hair loss.

Lead researcher Dr. Michael Irwig and his team interviewed 83 healthy men who developed persistent sexual side effects while taking the drug.  Researchers also looked at the men's medical histories, sexual function and alcohol consumption before and after taking the anti-baldness drug.

The findings revealed that 65 percent of the 63 men who drank at least one alcohol drink per week before starting finasteride noticed a decrease in their alcohol consumption even after they stopped taking the drug.

Researchers noted that 32 percent of the men reported no change in the alcohol consumption and 3 percent reported an increase in alcohol consumption, according to Live Science.

Researchers found that many of the men also reported a lower alcohol tolerance, more anxiety after drinking and slower recovery from the effects of alcohol after taking finasteride.

While Irwig and his team cannot say for sure why the drug affects some people's drinking habits, they believe finasteride reduced the brain's ability to make hormones called neurosteroids, which previous studies have linked to interest in alcohol.

Past research has also suggested that the anti-hair loss medication can cause permanent, irreversible impotence. Irwig and his team found that taking finasteride lead to persistent sexual dysfunction, including low sexual desire, erectile dysfunction and problems with orgasms. Researchers found that these sexual side effects continued even after men stopped taking the drug.

The latest findings are published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

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