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How Safe Is Drug To Treat Hirsutism-Excess Facial Hair

Q. A doctor has prescribed spironolactone to my 22 year old daughter for hirsutism. Is that drug effective and safe?

A. Spironolactone (Aldactone) is a diuretic used to control high blood pressure, but it is also prescribed to treat unsightly facial hair growth in women. This condition is sometimes associated with an excess of male hormones (androgens). Spironolactone has anti-androgen action and counteracts this problem. Side effects may include drowsiness, diarrhea, cramping, and menstrual irregularities.

Animal studies have raised questions about the long-term safety of this medication, however. It causes tumors in rats and the FDA has cautioned that “Unnecessary use of this drug should be avoided.”

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
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