Association of 5α-Reductase Inhibitors With Prostate Cancer Mortality

JAMA Oncol. 2022 Jul 1;8(7):1019-1026. doi: 10.1001/jamaoncol.2022.1501.


Importance: There is evidence that 5α-reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs), a standard treatment of benign prostate hyperplasia, are associated with a decrease in the incidence of prostate cancer (PCa). However, studies to date have had conflicting results regarding the association with prostate cancer mortality (PCM).

Objective: To evaluate the association of treatment with 5-ARIs with PCM in men without a prior diagnosis of PCa.

Design, setting, and participants: This population-based cohort study was conducted in Stockholm, Sweden, between January 1, 2007, and December 31, 2018, and included 429 977 men with a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test within the study period. Study entry was set to 1 year after the first PSA test. Data were analyzed from September 2021 to December 2021.

Exposures: After their initial PSA test, men with 2 or more newly dispensed prescriptions of 5-ARI, finasteride, or dutasteride were considered 5-ARI users (n = 26 190).

Main outcomes and measures: Primary outcome was PCM. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to calculate multivariable-adjusted hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% CIs for all-cause mortality and PCM.

Results: The study cohort included 349 152 men. The median (IQR) age for those with 2 or more filled prescriptions of 5-ARI was 66 (61-73) years and 57 (50-64) years for those without. The median follow-up time was 8.2 (IQR, 4.9-10) years with 2 257 619 person-years for the unexposed group and 124 008 person-years for the exposed group. The median exposure to treatment with 5-ARI was 4.5 (IQR, 2.1-7.4) years. During follow-up, 35 767 men (8.3%) died, with 852 deaths associated with PCa. The adjusted multivariable survival analysis showed a lower risk of PCM in the 5-ARI group with longer exposure times (0.1-2.0 years: adjusted HR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.64-1.25; >8 years: adjusted HR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.27-0.74). No statistically significant differences were seen in all-cause mortality between the exposed and unexposed group. Men treated with 5-ARIs underwent more PSA tests and biopsies per year than the unexposed group (median of 0.63 vs 0.33 and 0.22 vs 0.12, respectively).

Conclusions and relevance: The results of this cohort study suggest that there was no association between treatment with 5-ARI and increased PCM in a large population-based cohort of men without a previous PCa diagnosis. Additionally, a time-dependent association was seen with decreased risk of PCM with longer 5-ARI treatment. Further research is needed to determine whether the differences are because of intrinsic drug effects or PCa testing differences.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Prostate / pathology
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / mortality
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Sweden


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors
  • Oxidoreductases
  • Prostate-Specific Antigen