Are you taking a prostate drug with serious side effects?

As an integrative physician who has worked with hundreds of patients with prostate issues over the years I found this study to be incredibly interesting and relevant.

I’d like to share with you some of the lessons that I think can be learned…

As men age, their prostate gland often enlarges in response to metabolic and hormonal changes as well as inflammation.

This condition often results in uncomfortable symptoms including a weak stream of urine, difficulty starting urination, a sense of not fully emptying the bladder, leaking of urine, more frequent urination and a strong and sudden desire to urinate, especially at night.

To help improve symptoms, men are often prescribed an alpha blocker, such as Tamsulosin (Flomax) which relaxes the prostate smooth muscle and improves urination or other drugs such as Proscar (Finasteride) or Avodart (Dutasteride), which work by reducing prostate volume, thus improving urinary function.

The study, which appeared in the June 2017 issue of the journal, Hormones Molecular Biology and Clinical Investigations, followed two groups, one group of men with BPH who were prescribed Avodart and a second group who were prescribed Tamsulosin (an alpha blocker). Extensive data, including blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol), HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), liver function enzymes and quality of life questionnaires were collected on these two groups for 36-42 months. Here’s what they found…

The study results

The positive findings were that long-term treatment with Avodart (Dutasteride) was associated with significant improvements in lower urinary tract symptoms in men with BPH, with reduction in prostate volume.

However, findings showed that Avodart had significant negative health impacts. One of the authors, Abdulmaged M. Traish, MBA, PhD, professor of biochemistry and urology at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) concluded: “We believe our findings suggest that Avodart has a negative impact on men’s overall health since it increases blood sugar and A1C and also increases blood lipids. The increase in blood glucose and A1C may predispose men to diabetes and the increase in lipids may predispose them to NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). Most importantly, this agent worsens sexual function and reduces quality of life.”

None of these negative impacts was seen in the group taking Tamsulosin.

The Boston University School of Medicine Researchers who conducted the research believe the data from this study and those reported by others in animal models, as well as in other clinical studies, strongly suggest that Avodart may have serious adverse side effects that were not obvious several years ago.

These findings emphasize the importance of ongoing research, even for well-established and widely used medications. New findings should inform the conversation that you have with your health care provider. The researchers strongly recommended that physicians discuss with their patients these potential serious adverse effects of long-term Dutasteride therapy prior to instituting this form of treatment.

When talking with your health care provider about this medication for BPH, some good questions to ask include: Why do you specifically need this medication? What are the alternative medicines available and what is the current research on their safety and effectiveness? How long does your physician expect you to take Avodart? Will this medication create conflicts with other medicines you take? And most importantly, are there other natural supplement options you can try?

Empower yourself

I always encourage my patients to be informed participants in their own healing journey, even if the issues are not always easy to sort out.

Sorting through any published research to find answers can be a challenge, and I’m sure this debate will continue. It’s actually a good thing, a necessary and healthy activity in the fast-growing field of integrative medicine. It is an art as well as a science, but luckily, we have a growing integrative medicine community on our side.

As an integrative physician with extensive training in Traditional Chinese Medicine, I like to suggest botanical and nutritional approaches to promote and maintain healthy prostate function, along with exercise, healthy diet, and stress control with practices such as meditation and chi gong.

Oftentimes these natural options can be quite effective when used alone or in conjunction with Western medical approaches. For more specific information about protecting prostate health, download my free prostate wellness guide here and check out my recommended prostate health formula here. I encourage you to keep reading, staying informed and asking questions.


  1. Traish A, Haider KS, Doros G, Haider A. Long-term dutasteride therapy in men with benign prostatic hyperplasia alters glucose and lipid profiles and increases severity of erectile dysfunction. — Horm Mol Biol Clin Investig. 2017 Jun 21;30(3).


Dr. Isaac Eliaz

By Dr. Isaac Eliaz

Dr. Isaac Eliaz is a renowned integrative medical doctor, licensed acupuncturist, researcher, product formulator and frequent guest lecturer. He has been a pioneer in holistic medicine since the early 1980s, and has published numerous peer-reviewed research papers on several of his key integrative health formulas. He is the founder and medical director of Amitabha Clinic in California, an integrative health center specializing in cancer and chronic conditions. Dr. Eliaz is an expert in using highly strategic, synergistic protocols to address numerous areas of health including metastatic cancer, immunity, digestion, detoxification, diabetes, cardiovascular health and more. His approach integrates modern science with traditional healing wisdom for optimal health and wellness. To download any of Dr. Eliaz's comprehensive wellness guides, click here.