Recent Blog Articles

Finasteride to prevent prostate cancer: A new chapter

June 1, 2009

Two respected medical organizations, the American Urological Association (AUA) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), issued a joint clinical practice guideline on the use of medication to prevent prostate cancer. The guidelines are contained in a detailed and thoughtful 15-page scientific document. But two prominent news organizations promptly reported the nuanced AUA/ASCO deliberations under the headlines "Older men urged to consider a drug to prevent prostate cancer" and "Experts promote baldness drug for prostate cancer." Spurred by these headlines, many men are likely to ask their doctors for a prescription. That may be a reasonable thing for you to do — but only after you understand the pros and cons of the medication and the scientific uncertainties about prostate cancer prevention.

Hormones and the prostate

Androgens are male sex hormones. The name comes from the Greek for "man-maker," and it's well chosen. Testosterone is the major androgen, and it does make the man. Testosterone is required for the development of male genitals during fetal life, and it triggers the sexual awakening of adolescence. Throughout adulthood, testosterone is responsible for libido and for the large muscles, strong bones, deep voice, and body hair that characterize the gender.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.

No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

Free Healthbeat Signup

Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Thanks for visiting. Don't miss your FREE gift.

The Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness, is yours absolutely FREE when you sign up to receive Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Sign up to get tips for living a healthy lifestyle, with ways to fight inflammation and improve cognitive health, plus the latest advances in preventative medicine, diet and exercise, pain relief, blood pressure and cholesterol management, and more.

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Health Alerts from Harvard Medical School

Get helpful tips and guidance for everything from fighting inflammation to finding the best diets for weight loss...from exercises to build a stronger core to advice on treating cataracts. PLUS, the latest news on medical advances and breakthroughs from Harvard Medical School experts.

BONUS! Sign up now and
get a FREE copy of the
Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness

Harvard Health Publishing Logo

Stay on top of latest health news from Harvard Medical School.

Plus, get a FREE copy of the Best Diets for Cognitive Fitness.