Losing your life to keep your hair

It's high on the list of worries for us guys. Sure, if you're not one of us you can go ahead and call us vain if you want. But the fact is losing our hair makes us feel like less of a man and, frankly, just plain old. And many of us...perhaps even you...will do pretty much whatever it takes to stem the flow of hair loss.

If you have any doubt about just how motivated we American guys are to keep our domes topped with a healthy head of hair you only need to take a glance at the swift sales of baldness drugs in the United States. It's clear that worrying over hair loss is practically a national obsession.

And with two thirds of American men experiencing some hair thinning by age 35, and the vast majority of us...85 percent...experiencing significant hair loss by the time we reach 50, that's a whole lot of obsessing.

But what if I told you that your obsession with holding on to your full head of hair could cost you your manhood and, perhaps, even one day your life? Because according to disturbing research that's what one popular baldness drug, that's been linked with sexual problems and now serious depression, may do.

Baldness pills can be bad news

The drug finasteride (brand name Propecia) may already sound familiar to you. It was in the headlines earlier this year when its manufacturer Merck finally bowed to the overwhelming evidence that it could cause sexual side effects. In April of 2012 Merck added warnings to the drug's label that men taking it could experience libido problems, develop ejaculation disorders, and even have trouble with orgasms. And for some men those sexual problems can last well after they stop taking the drug.

Now you'd think that horrifying list would be enough to send any man straight to the garbage can to toss his box of baldness pills. But either because they haven't heard the news yet...or because their longing for a full head of hair is stronger than their horror ...many men are still taking this drug. (I should also mention that Merck markets this same drug as an enlarged prostate remedy under the name Proscar.)

But new research, to be published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, might have those guys gaining a whole new appreciation for their chrome domes. If you happen to be one of those unlucky men who develop those persistent sexual side effects I mentioned above you may also be at a significantly higher risk for developing depression and, most frightening of all, suicidal thoughts.

Imagine... losing your life just to keep your hair.

From sexual side effects to suicide

The 61 balding men in the study were physically healthy. They had no former history of sexual problems or psychiatric issues. And they were not taking any oral psych prescriptions.

But they all had one more thing in common, and that's being former finasteride users. Well that, and the unfortunate sexual side effects that came along with that history.

The 61 men--along with a 29 man control group of balding men who had never taken the drug--took a self-administered Beck Depression Inventory test. The vast majority of former finasteride users had some symptoms of depression.

In fact, according to the test results 11 percent of the finasteride guys had mild symptoms of depression, 28 percent had moderate symptoms, and a hefty 36 percent were saddled with severe symptoms. But the most shocking finding of all was that a full 44 percent of them reported suicidal thoughts.

In stark contrast, only 10 percent of the control group had mild symptoms of depression and a paltry 3 percent reported suicidal thoughts.

The lead researcher on the study, Dr. Michael Irwig, said about the results, "The potential life-threatening side-effects associated with finasteride should prompt clinicians to have serious discussions with their patients."

I couldn't agree more Dr. Irwig... and the sooner the better.

But I would also add this. If you're on this drug make an appointment TODAY with your doctor to discuss getting off of it as soon as possible. Because let's face it... no locks are as lovely as your life.

And if you've never taken finasteride for your hair loss for goodness sake, whatever you do, don't start!