Finasteride treatment reduces the risk of low-grade prostate cancer (PCa) in men taking the drug for symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), data show.

Teemu J. Murtola, MD, of the University of Tampere in Tampere, Finland, and colleagues evaluated the PCa incidence among 23,320 men screened for the malignancy from 1996 to 2004. Of these men, 1,754 (7.5%) had used finasteride and 3,848 (16.5%) had used the alpha blockers tamsulosin or alfuzosin for symptomatic BPH.

Finasteride use was not significantly associated with PCa risk overall, but it was associated with a significant 41% decreased the risk of low-grade (Gleason 2-6) tumors compared with men who did not take finasteride, according to a report in the British Journal of Cancer (2009; published online ahead of print).

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Among long-term finasteride users, however, the researchers observed a 2.49 times increased risk of high-grade tumors (Gleason 7-10) among men who had used at least 1,087 doses of the drug. Alpha-blocker use overall did not affect PCa risk, but it was associated with a 45% reduced risk of high-grade prostate cancer.