New Hope for Baldness Cure

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A new study finds that stimulating new hair growth in bald areas may now be possible.



More than half of all men will eventually develop some degree of baldness as they age.  At the present time, there are very few treatment options available to men who are concerned about progressive hair loss.  Minoxidil, a drug that was first approved for the treatment of high blood pressure, can increase hair growth when applied to the scalp.  Finasteride, a drug that is used to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (enlargement of the prostate gland), can also be prescribed to increase hair growth.  However, both of these drugs are associated with significant side effects, and they must be used indefinitely in order to maintain hair growth.  Surgical approaches to hair loss are also available, although this approach tends to be expensive, and is associated with many of the risks associated with any surgical operation.  Therefore, the available options for treating baldness are both limited and associated with significant downsides.

An ideal treatment for baldness would reverse the suppression of hair growth brought about by male sex hormones (androgens), but without significant side effects. In the past, researchers have tried to “reprogram” hair follicles to resume hair growth by transplanting hair follicle predecessors into patches of hairless skin, in the hope that the follicles will stimulate new hair growth (“hair neogenesis”).  However, this approach has not been successful, to date, because the process of growing skin containing hair follicle predecessors in a laboratory culture appears to render them incapable of stimulating new hair growth.  Now, an intriguing new method of growing human dermis containing the predecessors of hair follicles may allow these transplanted hair follicle predecessors to stimulate new hair growth in humans.  This exciting new research study appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In this study, the researchers extensively studied the expression of genes in cultured human skin containing the dermal papillae that give rise to hair follicles, in an effort to learn why these dermal papillae lose the ability to stimulate hair growth after being grown in laboratory cultures.  What they found, in essence, is that growing two dimensional sheets of human dermis leads to the loss of activity in genes that are necessary for these dermal papillae to stimulate hair growth when transplanted onto hairless areas of skin.  Based upon this finding, the research scientists then grew these same human dermis papillae on the surface of small three dimensional spheres, instead of growing them in two dimensional sheets.  Then, the researchers transplanted these cultured human dermal cells onto patches of hairless human skin that had been previously grafted onto the backs of laboratory mice.  To their surprise, 5 out of the 7 mice began to grow human hair within the grafted patches of human skin!

While this is only a very preliminary research study, it nonetheless suggests that one of the biggest obstacles to stimulating new hair growth using a patient’s own dermal papillae may have finally been overcome.  The next step, of course, is to perform a similar experiment in humans, to see if this new 3D culture technique will also work in humans.  Given the hundreds of millions of men, and women, around the world with thinning hair, it should not be very difficult to find volunteers for such a study!


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For a comprehensive guide to living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race.  For the price of a cheeseburger, fries, and a shake, you can purchase this landmark new book, in both paperback and e-book formats, and begin living an evidence-based cancer prevention lifestyle today!

For a groundbreaking overview of cancer risks, and evidence-based strategies to reduce your risk of developing cancer, order your copy of my new book, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Vroman’s Bookstore, and other fine bookstores!

Within one week of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was ranked #6 among all cancer-related books on the “Top 100 Bestseller’s List” for Kindle e-books. Within three months of publication, A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race was the #1 book on the Amazon.comTop 100 New Book Releases in Cancer” list.


According to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.

Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  Over the past 12 months, 3.5 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious readers.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


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Avodart (Dutasteride) & Prostate Cancer Prevention

April 4, 2010 by  
Filed under Weekly Health Update


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Because most prostate cancers, like breast cancer, are fueled by sex hormones, the prevention of prostate cancer through the use of hormone-blocking medications is an attractive potential strategy.

Two medications, finasteride (Proscar) and dutasteride (Avodart), are FDA-approved to treat the benign enlargement of the prostate that commonly occurs with increasing age (also known as benign prostatic hypertrophy, or BPH).  Both of these medications have recently been evaluated in prospective, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical research trials as potential prostate cancer prevention agents.  Finasteride and dutasteride are 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors, and function by blocking the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone by this enzyme (dihydrotestosterone is the biologically active male sex hormone within the prostate gland).  Finasteride inhibits one of the two known forms of 5-alpha-reductase, while dutasteride (Avodart) inhibits both forms.

Finasteride (Proscar) has previously been evaluated in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, which enrolled nearly 19,000 men (55 years of age and older) who were without any clinical evidence of prostate cancer at the time they entered the study.  These men were randomly assigned to receive either finasteride or an identical placebo pill, and the entire cohort of men was then followed for a period of 7 years.  After 7 years of follow-up, 18 percent of the men who had been secretly randomized to receive finasteride were diagnosed with prostate cancer, while 24 percent of the men who had received the placebo pill (unknown to them at the time) developed prostate cancer.  Thus, taking finasteride for 7 years was associated with a 25 percent reduction in the relative risk of prostate cancer during the relatively brief course of this clinical study.  However, a potentially significant downside was also observed in this study, as the men who received finasteride, and who still went on to develop prostate cancer, tended to have more aggressive tumors when compared to the men in the placebo group (37 percent versus 22 percent, respectively).  Moreover, and not surprisingly, since finasteride blocks the active metabolite of testosterone, sexual dysfunction and breast enlargement were more common among the men taking finasteride when compared to the men in the placebo group. 

Following the intriguing results with finasteride (Proscar) in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial, there has been a great deal of anticipation building for results of the recently completed dutasteride (Avodart) prostate cancer prevention trial.  Now, the results of this important cancer prevention study have just been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.  This prospective, randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled study lasted for 4 years, and included 6,729 men at high risk of developing prostate cancer.  These men, all of whom were between 50 and 75 years of age, were secretly randomized to receive either 0.5 mg of dutasteride (Avodart) per day or an identical placebo pill.  As part of this research study’s protocol, all of these men underwent needle biopsies of the prostate gland at 2 years and 4 years after entering the study.  By the end of the study, 20 percent of the men who had received dutasteride (Avodart) had developed prostate cancer, while 25 percent of the men in the placebo (control) group were diagnosed with prostate cancer.  Thus, there was an observed 25 percent decrease in the relative risk of prostate cancer among the group of men that was randomized to receive dutasteride (Avodart) for 4 years (and a 5 percent absolute reduction in prostate cancer risk with Avodart).  As was observed in the finasteride (Proscar) study, however, there was also a higher incidence of more aggressive (i.e., higher grade) tumors observed among the men who took dutasteride (Avodart) when compared to the men in the placebo group, although only a very small number of these high grade tumors were identified in either group of men.  Finally, and not surprisingly, the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH), including difficulties in passing urine, were much improved among the men randomized to take dutasteride (Avodart).

Because it is still too soon to determine whether or not finasteride or dutasteride are able to significantly reduce the risk of death due to prostate cancer, there is no consensus at this time, among most prostate cancer experts, regarding the use of these hormone-blocking agents as prostate cancer prevention agents.  However, for men with significant prostate cancer risk factors, it may be prudent to consider the use of Proscar or Avodart.


To learn more about the potential role of 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors in cancer risk reduction, look for the publication of my new landmark book, “A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race,” in the spring/summer of this year.

Disclaimer: As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity

Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, a professor of surgery, a cancer researcher, an oncology consultant, and a widely published author

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I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would like to take this opportunity to thank the nearly 120,000 new and returning readers who visited our premier global health information website last month.  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can. 

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