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 symptoms of BPH. 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) and to what extent does its harm, rather than improve your prostate health.
History & Background
In the late 1970s, an α-blocker named phenoxybenzamine demonstrated beneficial effects in treating the symptoms of BPH. However, although it showed benefits, around 30% of users experienced serious 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 originally prescribed for Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH).
How Does Flomax Work?
Flomax is now the most commonly prescribed drug for men with symptoms of BPH, but how does it actually 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.
Is Flomax Safe, Does It Have Side Effects?
Commonly reported side effects of Flomax include: dizziness, nasal congestion, rhinitis, rhinorrhoea, 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 true effects that this drug could have on your body remain unknown to the public.
A big 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.
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, in order to examine whether alpha blockers increased the risk of falling. This is because it has been suggested that hypotension can result in serious 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 important that you avoid the use of Flomax.
Flomax has been shown to cause complications during cataract surgery and result in floppy eye syndrome (Pärssinen, 2006).
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 review involved 14 studies that ranged from 1 to 6 months long. The study participants did report 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 inadequate 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 completely go.
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 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 efficacy means patients may wish to consider alternative treatments.
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