A study of older men reveals that testosterone treatments are linked to dangerous heart risks and have no established benefits.
The large Veterans Affairs study looked at senior men diagnosed with low hormone levels, as well as other health issues, and looked at the way in which the men reacted to testosterone treatments, including heart attack, stroke, and death, according to an Associated Press (AP) report.
Testosterone gels, patches, and injections are touted as treatments for so-called “Low T,” a fairly recent term for a largely invented condition for which there is no true diagnosis. Massive advertising has been dedicated to Low T, which seems to be another term for the normal male aging process. Meanwhile, treatments have been associated with serious side effects, according to the AP.
In the same way that women experience the effects of aging and dropping hormone levels with perimenopause and menopause, so, too, do men experience a normal drop in their hormone levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the treatments for “for use in men who either no longer produce the male sex hormone testosterone or produce it in very low amounts.” The New York Times notes, there is ambiguity in the directive; however, for the most part, the products were traditionally used in the treatment of a small group of very specific disorders such as hormone deficiencies due to endocrine tumors or in response to chemotherapy, according to the AP.
The study revealed that in men using testosterone products, 30 percent were likelier to suffer from heart attack, stroke, or death when compared to men not taking a testosterone supplement. In fact, this study’s findings were similar to those seen in a previous study, the AP reported.
The study, conducted at VA’s Eastern Colorado Health system, involved 8,700 veterans and revealed that testosterone risks occurred in men taking supplemental testosterone regardless of existing cardiac issues, according to the AP. Some 26 percent of the men using a testosterone supplement experienced a so-called “bad” outcome within three years of the study’s initial cardiac test. Results appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association. No established data confirms that testosterone supplementation is safe in any group and experts say additional research is needed.
Testosterone treatments have been associated with a number of adverse reactions, including heart attack; stroke; death; enlarged prostate and potential increased prostate cancer risks; high blood pressure; blood clots in the legs and leg pain, swelling, or redness; body swelling, with or without heart failure; reduced sperm count; enlarged or painful breasts; sleep apnea; acne and skin irritation; increased cholesterol levels, red blood cell counts, and liver function tests; and more and longer lasting erections than are considered typical.
Children exposed to testosterone may express signs of early puberty such as enlarged penis or clitoris, premature development of pubic hair, increased erections and sex drive, and aggressive behavior. Women may experience changes in body hair and increased acne.