This Common Prostate Medication Might Also Reduce Your High Cholesterol

Up to 50% of men will look in the mirror one morning and notice a little more forehead showing (per Cleveland Clinic). Male pattern baldness, aka androgenetic alopecia, can lead to some anxiety and depression as men cope with their aging bodies. If losing their hair isn't stressful enough, men also have to deal with their prostate growing larger as they age. Most men over 80 will be diagnosed with an enlarged prostate, which can lead to incontinence or difficulty with urination.

Rather than take two different drugs for these conditions, finasteride treats both alopecia and an enlarged prostate. Finasteride works by reducing an enzyme that turns the male testosterone hormone into the hormone that causes alopecia and an enlarged prostate. Now finasteride might help treat another condition that affects both men and women. According to a 2024 study in the Journal of Lipid Research, finasteride might lower LDL cholesterol.

How finasteride might reduce cholesterol

Different doses of finasteride were given to male mice who had atherosclerosis for 12 weeks while feeding them a Western diet. The finasteride not only lowered their cholesterol levels but also had some clearing of the fatty deposits in their arteries. The mice on finasteride had less fat in their livers than the mice not taking the drug. The researchers believed that finasteride makes the body better able to digest and metabolize fats. However, the mice were on an extremely high dosage of finasteride to produce this effect. So the researchers looked at how finasteride might affect men already taking the drug.

The researchers collected health data from almost 4,800 men over 50 from 2009 to 2016 and controlled for alcohol use, heart disease, diabetes, and other conditions. Although just 155 of the men were taking finasteride, their total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels were lower than the men who weren't taking the drug. However, HDL cholesterol wasn't affected by finasteride.

The safety of finasteride

Although the Food and Drug Administration approved finasteride as a safe treatment for an enlarged prostate and aphasia, it has only been approved for men. Women who are pregnant should avoid handling broken or crushed finasteride tablets because they could harm a male fetus. However, women who see subtle signs of losing their hair might also use finasteride. A typical dose of finasteride is 5 milligrams for an enlarged prostate and 1 milligram for alopecia. You'll need to take finasteride long-term. As for finasteride's effects on cholesterol, a press release about the study said clinical trials are needed.

Taking finasteride has side effects such as problems with ejaculation, testicular pain, and depression. Both men and women could experience a lowered libido, dizziness, breast swelling, and breast tenderness. More serious side effects include rash, hives, and changes in breasts. Men should consult with their doctors before taking finasteride if they have a history of liver or prostate cancer. Finasteride can increase your risk of a high-grade form of prostate cancer.