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by Robert MacKay, Monday, June 17, 2013 | Categories: Propecia

The medication for male pattern baldness, Propecia, may help patients reduce their alcohol consumption. This has been stated by a new study found in the journal “Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research”. The active ingredient involved –namely, Finasteride– has been noticed to have this effect in male rodents in past studies but this is the first study that has considered the impact on human alcohol consumption.

The research found that more than half (65%) of men, who have stopped taking finasteride for at least 3 months (because of sexual-related side effects), reported a decrease in alcohol intake. This study is part of a research project that seeks to understand how Finasteride affects the production of neurosteroids and, therefore, how it might alter brain’s processes.

The study (by Professor Michael S. Irwig) can really only be seen as a starting point for further research on the subject. This is because of three main methodological reasons. First of all, the research does not have a control group: useful to compare the results from the experimental group and help understand the extent to which the results are significant. Secondly, evidence seems to be based on reports from patients during interviews, which might be subjective and not as accurate as scientific testing. Thirdly, the sample population was formed by men who have had adverse sexual-related side effects to the drug, hence, the conclusions cannot be applied to men who use Propecia regularly and do not have side effects, nor to men who have never used (and do not need) the hair loss medication. There might also be other external factors that might cause patients to report decreased alcohol consumption.

Although the report is interesting, it really has very little value at this stage as we cannot demonstrate a causal relationship. It should also be pointed out that the participants were clearly social drinkers rather than problem drinkers so the applicability of Finasteride as a potential treatment for alcohol addiction is far from established. Based on my random sample of one (myself), I can exclusively report that Finasteride has had no impact on my alcohol consumption whatsoever.

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