Are You Going to Use Finasteride for Hair Loss? Read This First

Sold in the market under the brand names Propecia and Proscar, finasteride is a medication that is intended to treat people who are suffering from hair loss.  In the early days, finasteride was just like other medications that were originally used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy and prostate cancer. It turns out that patients who took finasteride for their prostate-related issues had experienced great results with it, along with a surprising bonus, and that is, the growth of hair.

Finasteride actually works by means of inhibiting or stopping type II 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme responsible for converting the hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  DHT, in turn, is the one responsible for losing one’s hair, resulting to baldness if not remedied.  Thus, simply put, the action of finasteride is to prevent the conversion of testosterone into DHT, and the end result would be the prevention of hair loss. This “favorable side effect” of preventing hair loss and promoting growth of new hair by finasteride is what made it famous in the pharmaceutical world, not by its primary use which is for treating benign prostatic hypertrophy and other prostate-related ailments. Read more…

What's in the news: August 28

A round-up of Canadian health news, from coast to coast to coast, and beyond, for Thursday, August 28.

The Maple Leaf listeriosis outbreak persists, as the Canadian Press carries a story published in the Chronicle-Herald today under the bold (and quesionable) heading "Listeria could be re-election hazard," going so far as to compare the federal government's food-safety monitoring problems to past issues like the water contamination at Walkerton, and the financial scandals that plagued Paul Martin's Liberal minority.

The Conservatives have dropped their support for Bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Act, a private member's bill proposed by Tory MP Ken Epps that would have made it a separate crime to kill a fetus in the case of a murder of a pregnant woman. Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced that the government plans instead to introduce legislation that would allow judges to consider pregnancy as an "aggravating factor" when sentencing convicted criminals. Mr Epps, however, says he will continue to stand behind his proposed law even though it is now doomed. Mr Epps is backed by a small group of stalwart supporters in Parliament. The Canadian Medical Association, meanwhile, was eager to take credit for the government's decision to drop C-484, in light of a motion proposed by a delegate last week at the organization's Annual Meeting. The motion opposed "... any legislation that would result in compromising access for women to the medical services required to terminate a pregnancy." [CMA News]

Quebec will not open its own safe-injection site for drug addicts, after all. Health Minister Yves Bolduc's office said last week, sounding uncannily like Tony Clement's cadre, that there isn't enough evidence yet to justify opening a facility similar to Vancouver's Insite. The announcement has angered a number of advocacy groups and public health workers, as well as the separatist opposition party, the Parti Québecois.

Should codeine be entirely removed from obstetrics wards? That's what a Vancouver perinatologist thinks after reading a study published online by U of T researcher Gideon Koren and others in Clinical Pharmacology & Therapeutics. The good doctor's outrage is late in coming, though; the "new" study simply confirms what Dr Koren has been saying for years now about the danger for some genetically predisposed women of breastfeeding while taking codeine. The case in which an infant died as a result happened back in 2005, and the National Review of Medicine covered his research last year.

Dr Gordon Guyatt, the McMaster epidemiology prof and health policy analyst known for coining the term "evidence-based medicine," is sounding more and more like a potential federal Parliamentarian* every day. *Correction: Dr Guyatt is , for the NDP in Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale, in Ontario, and he has run in three previous elections.
I meant to write that he is sounding more like an MP every day.

Check out the most recent edition of Health Wonk Review, featuring the best in health policy writing from the medical blogosphere. Canadian Medicine makes an appearance.