Can This Anti-Baldness Drug Make You Drink Less?

By McCarton Ackerman 06/14/13

Nearly two-thirds of men reduce their alcohol consumption after taking Propecia, a study finds.

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The anti-baldness drug Propecia may help slow a receding hair line, but a new study says it could also reduce a user's interest in drinking alcohol. The study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, followed 83 men ages 21-46 who were experiencing sexual side effects for more than three months after they had stopped using Propecia. Dr. Michael Irwig, an endocrinologist and assistant professor of medicine at George Washington University School of Medicine, says nearly two-thirds of the 63 men in the study who drank at least one alcoholic beverage per week reduced their consumption; 32% reported no changes in their drinking habits, while 3% drank more. Many of the Propecia users also reported lower alcohol tolerance, increased anxiousness from drinking, and a slower recovery the next morning. Irwig suspects that the reduced drinking was not a voluntary decision, but rather Propecia interfering with the brain's ability to make certain hormones, known as neurosteroids, which are probably linked to drinking alcohol. But Dr. Marc Glashofer, a dermatologist in private practice in New York City who treats patients with male-pattern hair loss, says he wouldn't change his prescribing patterns for Propecia due to the small sample size and lack of a control group in this study. "It's not uncommon for men with hair loss to have higher levels of social anxiety and depression issues," he says, "and that may lead them to go out to bars less and have lower alcohol levels."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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