Women who are experiencing
thinning or loss of hair may benefit from a drug that blocks
the effects of testosterone, according to a recent study.
Hair loss in women
may be caused by an increase in activity of androgens, or
male hormones, on the scalp, or by the scalp becoming more
sensitive to the effects of androgens, according to experts.
In the past, researchers
have attempted to determine whether drugs that block androgens
may stop hair loss, however have not been successful.
In the current
study of 48 women with thinning hair and elevated androgen
levels, women were assigned to take either flutamide, a testosterone-suppressor
drug; cyproterone acetate, an anti-androgen treatment; finasteride
(Propecia), a drug used to treat hair loss in men; or no treatment
for a period of one year.
Women who took
the testosterone-suppressor flutamide for one year had the
best results and were more likely to say that their hair regrew,
had stopped thinning and had improved in overall appearance
than women who had received another drug or no treatment.
improvements were small with results described as being only
moderate, according to researchers.
of the 12 women taking flutamide said their rate of hair loss
had decreased, compared with three of the 12 given cyproterone
acetate and one of 12 who received finasteride.
that flutamide has been linked to severe liver damage, so
while doses can reach 750 milligrams per day, doses in the
current study were limited to 250 milligrams per day. Nonetheless,
two of the 12 women taking the drug had a mild increase in
liver enzymes, though it was reversible.
with flutamide may result in better, more substantial hair
regrowth, however may also increase the risk of liver damage.
Patients should be closely monitored for liver function while
taking the drug, researchers noted.
and Sterility January 2003;79:91-95