Science & Technology/Botox: It’s More Than Cosmetic

Issue Date: 
July 23, 2007

Men with enlarged prostates can benefit from Botox injections for up to a year after treatment


Injecting botulinum toxin A, or Botox, into the prostate glands of men with enlarged prostates eased symptoms and improved quality of life for up to a year after the procedure, according to a study by researchers at Pitt and Taiwan’s Chang Gung University Medical College.

“Millions of men in the United States suffer from enlarged prostate,” said Michael B. Chancellor, senior author of the study and a professor of urology and gynecology in Pitt’s School of Medicine. “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 for enlarged prostate that has long-term benefits.”

The 37 study participants, who were previously diagnosed with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) that did not respond to standard medical treatment, received injections of Botox directly into their prostate glands. Up to one year later, 27 of these patients (73 percent) experienced a 30 percent improvement in urinary tract symptoms and quality of life. Patients did not experience any significant side effects.

According to Yao-Chi Chuang, principal investigator of the study from Chang Gung University Medical College, Botox reduces the size of the prostate gland through a cellular process called apoptosis, in which the prostate cells die in a programmed manner. This reduction in size can improve urine flow and decrease residual urine left in the bladder.

BPH is one of the most common diseases affecting aging men. More than half of all men over the age of 60, and 80 percent by age 80, will have enlarged prostates; 40 to 50 percent will develop symptoms, which include more frequent urination, urinary tract infections, the inability to completely empty the bladder, and, in severe cases, eventual damage to the bladder and kidneys.

Results of the study, which was funded by a grant from Allergan, were presented during the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Anaheim, Calif., in May.