An oral medication used to treat prostate cancer may treat Female Pattern Hair Loss, a new study has found.
Researchers from the dermatology and trichology departments at Ramon y Cajal University Hospital in Madrid, Spain, treated 17 women diagnosed with genetic hair loss, using bicalutamide tablets.
According to the details published in the Dermatologic Therapy journal, these were administered either once daily or once every other day for the duration of this six month pilot study.
The team reported that more than half the participants saw "significant" hair growth, with 53 per cent reporting a "great improvement" in hair density.
The hair regrowth effects these women experienced were thought to be associated with the medication's testosterone-blocking properties.
Bicalutamide is an anti-androgen drug, used to stop testosterone reaching cancer cells in the hope of shrinking them, or at least slowing down their growth. It is also known by various brand names, including Casodex which is manufactured by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.
Androgens are male hormones, present in both men and women, which play a key role in the development of male sexual characteristics and reproductive health during puberty. The key androgen is testosterone.
After that time, those with an inherited predisposition to Male Pattern Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss can develop a sensitivity to a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is a formed from testosterone.
Where there is an active case of hereditary hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, the follicles located along the top of the scalp, from the crown to the hairline and temples, will become sensitive to the DHT which binds to them.
The DHT gradually destroys the affected follicles, presenting outwardly as increasingly thinning hair on top, a thinning crown and/or a receding hairline in men, though in women it tends to result in diffuse thinning over this entire susceptible area, rather than in defined areas as can be seen in men.
Whereas men tend to eventually go bald here, if no intervention is sought whilst the follicles are still capable of producing hair, women may experience severely thinning hair where the scalp becomes highly visible, but they rarely develop true baldness. This is why Belgravia hair experts refer to Female Pattern Hair Loss as such, not as 'Female Pattern Baldness'.
By blocking the formation of testosterone in women, the problematic DHT element is removed from the hairloss equation; in short, if there is no DHT, in theory, there should be no - or very little - hair fall or thinning.
"Bicalutamide has anti-androgen effects so, since androgenic alopecia - genetic hair loss - is androgen related, it makes sense that some benefit may be seen with anti-androgen drugs. This is why some women also use spironolactone as an 'off-label' hair loss treatment," says Belgravia superintendent trichologist, Rali Bozhinova.
"However," she adds, "with such medications there are more serious potential side effects compared to the only currently officially authorised treatment, topical minoxidil. There are also certain precautions women of childbearing age should be aware of.
Such medications should only be used under a doctor’s close supervision. Additionally, Female Pattern Hair Loss is a permanent condition which requires ongoing treatment, so the efficacy and safety of long-term bicalutamide use in women requires more research."
Currently there are two key products which may benefit women diagnosed with Female Pattern Hair Loss.
The first is topical formulations of high strength minoxidil, an MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved dose-dependent drug which is applied directly to thinning areas of the scalp. This vasodilating hairloss solution helps to encourage accelerated hair growth.
The second - which is non-medicinal and falls into the category of a supplementary hair growth supporting product which Belgravia hair specialists often recommend forms part of a comprehensive hair loss treatment course alongside appropriate minoxidil formulations - is a wearable low-level laser therapy (LLLT) device from HairMax, called the LaserBand.
This FDA-cleared headband-style gadget features an ergonomic designed which includes patented comb-like teeth which part the hair to allow medical-grade laser therapy to get straight to the scalp. There it stimulates adenosine triphosphate production which ultimately should boost hair growth if worn, as recommended, three times a week for either 90 seconds or 3 minutes each session, depending on the model.
Further adjuvant products and services, including clinical therapy sessions and highly-targeted food supplements designed to support the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth, such as Belgravia's exclusively formulated Hair Vitalics for Women, can also augment this non-surgical approach.
With so many hair loss products available - many of which tend to be cosmetic, rather than actual treatments - speaking to a professional to get a confirmed diagnosis of your condition and take advice as to their recommendations, can save time and money, as well as often providing a sense of relief, whether the consultation happens in person at a dedicated hair loss clinic, or online.
The Belgravia Centre is a world-renowned group of a hair loss clinic in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation from anywhere in the world for home-use treatment.
View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world's largest gallery of hair growth photos and demonstrates the level of success that so many of Belgravia's patients achieve.