Update: September 2019 — The same authors (led by Dr. Akio Sato) just published a 10-year update on the below Finasteride study.
Amazingly, Japanese men continued to see new hair growth even after 10 years of Finasteride 1 mg/day use. In fact, many patients even saw new hair growth at the 10 year mark! Furthermore, most patients saw an improvement from year 5 to year 10.
The average Japanese androgenetic alopecia (AGA ) patient in this study saw an improvement of approximately 1 Norwood Scale grade after 10 years of treatment with Finasteride. Side effects remained minimal even after such long-term use. One of the patients is seen in the photo on the left at baseline and after each year of treatment.
Finasteride more Effective in Japanese Men
A very important study titled “Five-year efﬁcacy of ﬁnasteride in 801 Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia” was just published in the Journal of Dermatology (it was received in 2014, but released now). Unfortunately, Google Scholar does not have a free version of the study, although I was able to preview the first page here.
Apparently, this was the first major long-term (≥ 5 years) study on oral Finasteride use to treat hair loss in Japanese men. A major 3-year efficacy study was published in the past that showed improvement in 78 percent of Japanese patients. However, this new five-year study showed improvement in a stunning 99.4 percent of the 810 patients who took 1mg finasteride per day for 5 years or more!
The authors (led by Dr. Akio Sato) conclude that Japanese hair loss sufferers are probably much better responders to Finasteride than are Caucasian men. They cite a prior large-scale 1,553 person study on Caucasian men that showed a 48 percent improvement after 5 years (I am guessing that most of the remainder saw maintenance).
The authors mention that on average, Japanese men bald 10 years later than Caucasian men — and from my own observations, Japanese men also bald far less frequently than Caucasian men. This latest study on Japanese men also showed better responses in those that had less pre-existing baldness and started treatment at a younger age. As is almost always the case with these studies, the side effects from long-term Finasteride use were minimal.
On hair loss forums, you will often read anecdotal reports about persistent relatively serious side effects in some people who have taken Finasteride for a while, and it is up to you and your doctor to decide on whether its worth this risk. I take 1.25mg Finasteride every two days (via cutting Proscar tablets), but may change my dose to 1mg daily in the future.
Shiseido update from Japan
Also from Japan, Shiseido was covered in a local paper (link no longer works) that you need to translate into English. A take on that article from a two-person Canadian-Japanese translation team named “Master Blaster” can be read here.
It seems like Replicel thinks that the cure will be here in 2018, although I will only buy that time-frame once their final clinical trial results come through later this year and show limited side effects as well as positive hair growth results. I am nevertheless very pleased to read about an even more optimistic timeline for a cure than I project on this blog’s name.