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Is there a new cure for baldness

01:00 Mon 11th Mar 2002 |

asks adryley:
Yes. A prescription-only drug, called Propecia, which tackles male hair loss, has just been launched in the UK. It has been used in the US since 1998.

Q. What is it
It's a once-a-day tablet containing the compound finasteride, and is supposed to make a difference within three to six months after you start to take it.

Q. How does it work
Research shows that an enzyme which affects the male hormone testosterone causes hair loss. This affects British 6.5 million. The drug works by inhibiting this enzyme and preventing further hair loss.

Q. Is it free
Oh no. Those who long for locks will have to get it on private prescription and pay out �30 to �35 a month.

Q. Can anyone use it
A. Yes, as long as they're male and their GP thinks they're a suitable case.

Q. How successful is it
According to research published in The Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology three years ago, 83% of men who took the drug maintained or improved their hair count compared to 28% who were taking a placebo. A total of 66% actually started growing new hair over their bald spots. By comparison, almost 75% of men taking the dummy pill suffered further hair loss over the same period.

Q. Sounds too good be true - any drawbacks
Er, yes. A few men who took Propecia reported having 'reversible impairments' in sexual function.

Q. What sort of 'impairments'
A total of 1.8% suffered decreased libido - but so did 1.3% taking a placebo pill. Another 1.3% had erectile dysfunction, compared with 0.7 per cent on placebo.

Q. Is that putting many men off
Probably not. Many men find that a fine head of hair does wonders for their self-esteem. According to research published last year, almost half of British males admit to being anxious about the prospect of baldness. Younger men, aged between 18 and 24, are more worried about losing their hair than they are about developing a serious health condition or putting on weight.

Q. How long can I take Propecia
There is no limit to how long you can take it, but once you stopping taking the pill you may start to lose your hair again.

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By Sheena Miller

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