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29 May 2006
Botox Not Just For Wrinkles
by George Atkinson

Popularized thanks to its effect on wrinkles, Botox has now been found to also be an effective treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), commonly referred to as an enlarged prostate. Reporting at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association, researchers from the Chang Gung University Medical College in Taiwan and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine said botulinum toxin A, or Botox, could ease the symptoms and significantly improve quality of life for men suffering from BPH.

While the results are only from a small trial involving 41 men, the findings could potentially lead to effective treatment for the many men that suffer from BPH. "Millions of men in the United States suffer from enlarged prostate," said Pittsburgh School of Medicine urologist Michael B. Chancellor.

"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."

The men in the study, ranging in age from 49 to 79 years, all had an enlarged prostate that did not respond to standard treatments. The men received injections of Botox directly into their prostate glands and were followed up at regular intervals. Three-quarters of the men experienced a substantial (30 percent) improvement in urinary tract symptoms and quality of life. Impressively, in some of the patients, these improvements were seen up to one year after the injection. Additionally, 80 percent of the men were able to completely empty their bladders within a week to one month after the injection. None of the men reported any significant side effects such as stress urinary incontinence or erectile dysfunction.

Dr. Chancellor said that Botox works by reducing the size of the prostate gland through a cellular process called apoptosis, in which the prostate cells die in a programmed manner. The resultant reduction in size can improve urine flow and decrease residual urine left in the bladder.

Based on material from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

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