August 12, 2015 — For men on testosterone therapy, a new study has found good news about cardiovascular side effects but bad news for those hoping for a “fountain of youth.”
The study, published in the journal JAMA, was funded by pharmaceutical companies that sell “Low T” treatments. Three authors disclosed ties to those drug-makers.
Conclusions of the study were based on data from about 300 men over the age of 60 with low or low-normal testosterone levels. Half were given testosterone gel and half were given a placebo.
The good news is that after three years, researchers found no difference in the rate of build-up in their artery walls, known as atherosclerosis — a major risk-factor for heart attacks and stroke.
However, the study did not investigate the risk of stroke. It also did not rule out other causes of cardiovascular events.
For example, testosterone can boost the number of red blood cells, which thickens the blood and encourage clot formation. Studies have also shown higher rates of heart attack and stroke in the first 30 days of treatment, suggesting that testosterone might loosen existing arterial plaques.
The bad news is that the study found no improvement in overall sexual function, sexual desire, erectile function, partner intimacy, or health-related quality of life among men on testosterone. The study’s authors concluded, “increasing testosterone levels above the lower limit of the normal range in healthy men does not further improve sexual function.”
The findings are a blow to the multi-million dollar industry that has popped up around “Low T” ads claiming testosterone therapy can help make aging men stronger, more attractive, happier, and more virile.
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