An enlarged prostate (also known as benign prostatic hyperplasia) is a condition that will affect most men throughout their lifetime. It is one of the most common health problems for men over the age of 50, and as you age, you are more likely to develop prostate enlargement. More than 90% of men over the age of 80 have this condition.
What Is An Enlarged Prostate?
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) occurs when the prostate, expands to twice or even three times its regular size. The growing prostate gland gradually presses against the urethra and often affects the way you urinate and the flow of urine.
As a result, the bladder muscle becomes stronger, thicker and more sensitive, causing it to contract. This results in more frequent urination, and as the urethra becomes increasingly narrowed, the urine remains in the bladder, accounting for urinary problems.
If you have an enlarged prostate, you may have come across the drug Flomax (generic name: Tamsulosin). Your Doctor might have prescribed it, having told you that it will relieve your BPH urinary symptoms.
However, a note of warning. While It may seem like the perfect drug if you have an enlarged prostate, a staggering amount of research has highlighted worrying side effects.
This in-depth report will take a closer look at Flomax (tamsulosin hydrochloride) and to what extent does its harm, rather than improve your prostate
Flomax: History & Background
In the late 1970s, an α-blocker named phenoxybenzamine demonstrated beneficial effects in treating the symptoms of BPH (benign prostatic hyperplasia). However, although it showed benefits, around 30% of users experienced severe side effects. Furthermore, the drug has been identified as a potentially strong carcinogen (Ramirez 2014).
Flomax (also known as Tamsulosin), became available to the market in 1996 and was showcased as a breakthrough drug.
It was revealed to have fewer side effects than phenoxybenzamine, the popular alpha blocker that was initially prescribed for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
How Does Flomax Work?
Flomax is now the most commonly prescribed drug for men with BPH symptoms, but how does it work?
Alpha blockers work by binding to alpha-adrenergic receptors which prevent the receptor from being stimulated.
This prevents the transmission of nerve impulses and causes smooth muscles in the prostate, bladder, and arterioles to relax, enabling urine to flow more freely and alleviating bladder outlet obstruction.
As a result, men may experience an improvement in BPH signs and symptoms, such as the urge to urinate,
Is Flomax Safe, Does It Have Side Effects?
Commonly reported side effects of Flomax to include: dizziness or fainting, low blood pressure, nasal congestion, rhinitis, rhinorrhea, sinus congestion, seasonal allergic rhinitis, and even drowsiness.
It is highly likely that current research underestimates both the number of these side effects, as well as their seriousness.
The research conducted around this drug is kept from the public, providing very little information about the dangerous effects of Flomax.
A pharmacologist revealed in 2014 that over 75% of registered trials for Flomax were hidden, which is a very worrying statistic. Therefore, the exact effects that this drug could have on your body remain unknown to the public.
Flomax side effects
A significant cause for concern is severe hypotension, which has rarely been reported in clinical trials.
Alpha blockers, especially untargeted ones such as tamsulosin, relax the smooth muscles in the heart which leads to low blood pressure. (Flomax should not be used to treat high blood pressure).
A cohort study involving 14,784 men that used an alpha-blocker from 2003 to 2013 were compared to an equal number of men who decided against the use of alpha blockers, to examine whether alpha blockers increased the risk of falling.
This is because it has been suggested that hypotension can result in dangerous falls, fractures or head injuries.
The use of alpha-blockers increased fall risk by 14% compared to men that did not use alpha-blockers.
If you are going to have cataract surgery, then it is essential that you avoid the use of Flomax
Further Side Effects
Further studies have also outlined other potential risk of taking the drug. A Cochrane systematic review looked at the effects of Flomax for BPH in 2003.
The analysis involved 14 studies that ranged from 1 to 6 months long. The study participants described improvements in symptoms. However, they also found 37 adverse side effects and 63% reported some form of side effect.
Side effects that were reported included erectile dysfunction, retrograde ejaculation, and reduced libido.
In another 4-year study, 27% of participants dropped out due to the small improvement in symptoms, while 17% dropped out due to side effects.
The most common side effects were dizziness, abnormal ejaculation, asthenia, hypotension, erectile dysfunction, and headaches.
Does Flomax Alleviate Symptoms?
Evidence suggests that Flomax is moderately effective at best. Patients taking Flomax or considering taking Flomax should be made aware that taking this medication means that symptoms are unlikely to go completely.
The size of the prostate is a determinant on the effectiveness of Flomax. The drug is notably less effective when the prostate is larger.
Finally, it should be noted that a clear majority of the research around this drug remains unpublished. As a result, it is likely that available evidence overestimates its overall effectiveness.
Does Flomax Shrink And Heal The Prostate?
Alpha-blockers do not improve clinical outcomes of BPH or slow down the growth of the prostate, and Flomax is no exception.
A 2008 study found that prostate size did not change, and PSA levels increased by 12.1% over two years of Flomax use.
Prostate cancer was reported in 26 men that were receiving Flomax. This is not surprising, with research indicating that BPH may increase prostate cancer risk.
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Based on the research (or lack of it), and the fact that there are other more effective alpha blockers available with fewer side effects, patients may wish to consider avoiding Flomax altogether.
It has also been identified as a carcinogen, as well as linked to macular degeneration in the form of Floppy Iris Syndrome.
Overall, the vast majority of industry-funded studies on Flomax remain unpublished. Independent studies raise questions about the efficacy and safety of this medication. Its high rate of side effects and low efficiency means patients may wish to consider alternative treatments.
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