The latest analyses from a federal study of the drug finasteride is good news for men interested in using it to reduce the risk of prostate cancer.
The pill reduced the development of prostate cancer by 25 percent. And contrary to initial results from 2003, it did not slightly increase the risk of an aggressive form of the disease.
More than 18,800 men age 55 and older took a placebo or finasteride, which suppresses a male hormone involved in prostate growth, from 1993 until the National Cancer Institute-sponsored study was ended in 2003.
Even though 18 percent of men in the finasteride group developed prostate cancer compared to 24 percent of men in the placebo group, the drug has not caught on for prevention because of a slight increase in aggressive disease among men on finasteride - 6.4 percent versus 5.1 percent on placebo.
The latest results, presented Sunday at the American Urological Association meeting in Orlando, Fla., adjusted for the fact that finasteride improves cancer detection by shrinking the prostate, reducing its size and volume. The new analysis found that aggressive cancers were no more likely in one group than the other.