Health Canada has found that male breast cancer was reported in a small number of patients who had taken the prescription drug Propecia in an effort to prevent male pattern baldness and the development of gray hair, reported the news source.
The medication is taken by individuals who wish to reverse male pattern baldness, as a one-milligram dose is usually prescribed by doctors who want to help their patients with the problem.
"Male breast cancer has been reported in a small number of patients worldwide with both the one-milligram and five-milligram formulations of finasteride," Health Canada said in a report that was released following the initial findings. "Most of the reports have been in association with the five-milligram formulation. Based on the currently available evidence, it is not known with certainty whether finasteride can cause breast cancer, nor can this possibility be ruled out at this point in time."
The organization had received two reports of male breast cancer following patients being given a dose of the medication. The drug has recently received new warning labels due to the associated risks, according to CBC.
The warning labels dictate the possibility that patients will have an increased risk of obtaining breast cancer and these individuals have been warned that the changes that could occur from taking Propecia could include breast enlargement, lumps, tenderness, pain or nipple discharge, the news source reported.
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According to the newspaper, there are several other side effects that could include impotence, male breast cancer and possibly prostate cancer.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that despite the side effects, the drug has to be presented in a manner that highlights the pros and cons equally.
"We want people to get good information so that they can make good decisions," Thomas Abrams, director of the FDA's Office of Prescription Drug Promotion, told the Times. "But that's not an easy thing sometimes, given the complexity and technical nature of prescription drugs."