Botox is not just for keeping aging actresses looking eerily young any more. Injecting botulinum toxin A, or Botox, into the prostate gland of men with enlarged prostates eased symptoms and improved quality of life for up to a year after the procedure.
The study was based on 37 men with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
"Millions of men in the United States suffer from enlarged prostate," said Michael B. Chancellor, M.D., senior author of the study and professor of urology and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "It's a challenging disease to live with because it causes frequent and difficult urination. Unfortunately, common treatments also are problematic because they carry some risk of serious side effects, such as impotence. Our results are encouraging because they indicate that Botox could represent a simple, safe and effective treatment for enlarged prostate that has long-term benefits."
The study participants, previously diagnosed with symptomatic BPH that did not respond to standard medical treatment, received injections of Botox directly into their prostate glands. Up to one year post injection, 27 of these patients, or 73 percent, experienced a 30 percent improvement in urinary tract symptoms and quality of life. Patients did not experience any significant side effects, including stress urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction.
According to Yao-Chi Chuang, M.D., principal investigator of the study from Chang Gung University Medical College, Taiwan, Botox reduces the size of the prostate gland through a cellular process called apoptosis, in which the prostate cells die in a programmed manner. This reduction in size can improve urine flow and decrease residual urine left in the bladder.
BPH is one of the most common diseases affecting men as they age. More than half of all men over the age of 60 and 80 percent by age 80, will have enlarged prostates. Forty to 50 percent will develop symptoms, which include more frequent urination, urinary tract infections, the inability to completely empty the bladder and, in severe cases, eventual damage to the bladder and kidneys.
Contributors to the study include Po-Hui Chiang, M.D., and Kaohsiung Hsien, M.D., with the Chang Gung University Medical College, Taiwan; and Naoki Yoshimura M.D., Ph.D., with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. The study is funded by a grant from Allergan.