President Donald Trump’s doctor said this month that the president takes a medication to stimulate hair growth. His long-time physician, Dr. Harold Bornstein, revealed the 70-year-old president is taking finasteride (brand name: Propecia).
Trump is one of more than 80 million men and women in the U.S. who suffer from some degree of hair loss, and this could be a conservative estimate.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, by the age of 35, approximately one-third of men experience some degree of hair loss. By the age of 50, half of men will have significantly thinning hair.
For nearly 95 percent of men, male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is the culprit behind their hair loss.
Hair loss is often considered to be a man’s problem, but the fact is that roughly half of all women over the age of 40 suffer from some form of hair loss, most commonly, female pattern baldness.
Dr. Alan J. Bauman, the founder and chief medical officer at Bauman Hair Transplant and Treatment Center in Boca Raton, tells Newsmax Health that the drug Trump is using is extremely successful in treating hair loss.
“Finasteride has a 90 percent success rate,” he says. “That means nine out of 10 patients will look the same, or better, in the long term. Two-thirds of patients regrow some hair, while five out of six will maintain the hair they’ve got.”
Bauman adds that there is about a 2-3 percent risk of mild side effects, such as low libido or mild erectile dysfunction, while taking the drug but these are typically reversible.
“The risk of persistent side effects after stopping the drug is estimated to be less than one in a million,” he says. “You can also apply the drug topically with less risk of systemic side effects.
“Today we also offer a compounded oral version called FinPlus which also contains biotin and other helpful nutraceuticals to reduce and treat hair loss. This medication or topical finasteride can be used in combination with other treatments such as platelet-rich plasma, laser therapy or hair transplants.”
The drug, finasteride, was initially developed to treat urinary problems in men. Studies showed the drug made prostate glands smaller thus relieving the urinary problems by reducing the levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone in participants.
But during clinical trials, scientists saw an unexpected side effect — hair growth. In 1997, the FDA approved this steroid inhibitor as the first ever drug to treat male pattern baldness.
The news also explains why Trump’s prostate specific antigen levels (PSA) are unusually low for his age. Finasteride reduces PSA levels to reduce the swelling of the prostate glands.
Men aged 60-69 years of age normally have PSA levels of between 4.0 and 5.0 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter.) Trump’s PSA level, as revealed by Bornstein, is 0.15 ng/ml.
He told The New York Times that Trump’s unusually low PSA count is directly attributed to the use of Propecia.
Finasteride should only be used for men, however, and women or children are advised never to even touch the tablets as the medication can be absorbed through the skin.
Bauman says that genetics are the main cause of hair loss in men and women.
“In fact, there are approximately 200 genes that regulate hair loss and hair growth,” he says. “Genetics and other factors determine the time of onset, speed and severity of loss over time.
But it isn’t all in the genes. We are always discovering an increasing number of ‘epigenetic’ or non-genetic factors, which can accelerate hair loss. These include medications, stress, illness, diet and hormonal changes. Certain hairstyles and styling habits can also lead to hair loss.
“New genetic tests and scientific hair measurements can accurately determine an individual's risk of losing their hair so they can begin preventative treatments early, when they will be most effective.”
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