A drug used to treat prostate cancer can help women fight hair loss. In a recent study of 17 women, more than half experienced "significant" hair growth within weeks of taking bicalutamide.
Treatment works for prostate cancer by stopping testosterone from reaching cancer cells.
Prostate cancer uses the male hormone for growth and blocking it not only slows the growth of a tumor, it can even shrink it. It was these same testosterone-blocking effects that prompted scientists to try the cure for hair loss in women.
A drug used to treat prostate cancer can help women fight hair loss (image file)
This is because, along with genetics and menopause, for example, the hormone is involved in androgenetic alopecia, the most common form of hair loss in women.
Testosterone, although considered to be a male hormone, is also present in small amounts in women and can attack hair follicles and accelerate hair loss in women.
This process speeds up post-menopause as testosterone becomes more dominant as women's estrogen levels decrease.
In the new experience, bicalutamide taken as a pill is given to women every day or every other day for a minimum of six months (file photo)
As a result, the hairs from the affected follicles become progressively smaller in diameter and shorter in length to eventually the follicles shrink completely and stop producing hair.
Usually this results in a total thinning of the hair.
It is thought that at some point it affects one in three women and is associated with an increased risk of depression. It starts later in life than hair loss in men, with symptoms usually occurring in the 50's or 60's of the patient.
Ongoing treatments include the drug minoxidil, but it won't work for everyone and carries the risk of side effects such as skin rashes and headaches.
Managing Hair Loss
Infusing blood into the scalp can help deal with hair loss in women and men, reports the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.
The tips contain platelet-rich plasma (PRP) made by rotating a sample of the patient's own blood into a centrifuge to secrete red blood cells and leave proteins that are said to be rich in growth factors that help reverse hair follicles damage,
PRP is then injected into the scalp. Researchers at Cologne University Hospital reviewed 13 studies involving 356 people and found that treatment increased hair density compared to placebo, with no adverse effects.
In the new trial, bicalutamide, taken as a pill, is given to women every day or every other day for a minimum of six months. According to the results of a pilot study reported in Dermatologic Therapy, there is a significant improvement in hair density in 53% of women.
The results are based on visual before and after evaluations by dermatologists.
There have been no "significant" adverse events, but in cancer patients this can cause rashes and hot sweating.
Researchers in the process, from Ramon and Kajal University Hospital in Madrid, believe the results show: "Treatment with this drug may be a new and useful option for women. "
Commenting on the study, Dr. Bav Shergill, a dermatologist consultant and honorary senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, said similar anti-testosterone drugs, such as spironolactone, also showed promise, adding:" This new prostate cancer drug application is interesting. and I look forward to seeing research in a larger group. "
Under the microscope  Former British tennis hero Tim Henman, 45, takes our health quiz
Can you run n up the stairs
Former British hero in tennis Tim Henman, 45, takes our health quiz
Yes. I stopped playing professional tennis 12 years ago and now maintain fitness at home, five times a week for about an hour. There is a treadmill, motor, Versaclimber [a cardio machine that provides a total body workout] and weights. I also go 5k tracks with my wife Lucy and our black Labradors Bumble and Bella.
Get five a day?
Definitely. Lucy has a vegetable patch and started growing her own. We all [the couple have children Rosie, 17, Olivia, 14, Grace, 12] eat well and have a balanced diet.
Did you ever die?
When I was playing, I kept calorie intake with protein shakes and chicken, fish and steak. There is no real diet now, but I pay attention to what I eat. I'm 6 feet 1 in and weigh a little over 12 (77 kg).
Are there any vices?
Wine. Any wine. I like everything. Eight days a week.
Has anything been removed?
When I was 28, my wisdom teeth passed and all four were anesthetized. I remember friends who had terrible experiences, but my teeth were pulled out at 8 in the morning and I ate steak and chips for lunch that day.
Handling pain well?
Pretty good. I played more than 1000 games and stopped in very few of them – though at 20, I broke my left leg in three places. This was a spiral fracture [caused by the foot remaining in once place while the body was in motion]. I had surgery two days later and three pins were placed at the bottom. I still received them and never had a problem.
The most serious illness / injury?
Breaking my leg. At the time, I was ranked 145th in the world and missed five months of tennis.
Have some pills?
Anti-inflammatory remedies for right elbow if it hurts. I did three operations on it – the first one in the 20's; I suspect the damage was caused by playing too much tennis in my teenage years, when my bones were still soft and my muscles were growing fast.
Tried alternative means?
When I was playing, I had acupuncture.  The biggest phobia?
Snakes, though I can't explain why. I can't watch them on TV and I don't even like snake toys.
What keeps you awake at night?
I've always been a very good sleeper. I can sleep anytime, anywhere, and I never lost sleep before a big game. Also, hydration.
They once had plastic surgery
This is not for me but for horses for courses.
Interview by Helen Gilbert
- Tim will play in the Championship tennis event this month. Tickets are available at championstennis.co.uk