If you're worried about Testosterone Replacement, consider this: men with low testosterone (Low-T) are not less likely to die.
On the contrary, according to a recent study, they are more liable to die!
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Men with Low-T over age 40 have an elevated risk of death over a four-year period compared to those with normal hormone levels, the study suggests.
However, researchers caution that the link between low Testosterone and early death is still somewhat uncertain.
They added the possibility that an unknown factor is responsible for both Low-T and accelerated mortality.
Molly Shores of the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and the University of Washington, Seattle, led the study. The details are in the current issue of Archives of Internal Medicine.
A Very Wide Playing Field
Testosterone levels can be all over the range of measurements among men and even from individuals due to illness or stress. However, studies have reliably demonstrated that levels of Testosterone plunge as men age.
Testosterone levels pinnacle during men's late 20s but plummet soon after, falling about 1 to 1.5 per cent every year after age 30.
The decrease is considered due to age-related changes in the testes, where the hormone originates, and in the brain.
Low -T can lead to shrunken, weakened muscles and bone density, insulin resistance, reduced libido, lowered energy, irritability, depression, and a wide array of other health problems.
The fact that older men have far more health issues than younger men is undoubtedly the first link in the equation.
But the researchers went much further. They examined the connection between Testosterone levels and mortality in a total of 858 male veterans age 40 or older.
Subjects had their Testosterone measured at least twice between 1994 and 1999. The participants were tracked for an average of 4.3 years and a maximum of eight years until 2002.
About 19 percent had Low-T; 28 per cent (240 men) oscillated between low and normal levels, and 53 per cent had normal Testosterone levels.
Around 20 per cent of men with normal Testosterone levels passed away during the study, compared with 24.6 per cent of men with fluctuating levels and 34.9 per cent of participants with Low-T.
Here is the critical part of the study: men with Low-T had an 88 per cent increase in the risk of death contrasted with those who had normal levels.
The effect remained even after variables such as age, other diseases, and Body Mass Index (BMI) were considered.
The mortality risk for men with low Testosterone tumbled to 68 per cent after the researchers reviewed the data to exclude men who had died within the first year of follow-up.
The reason for this was to account for drops in Testosterone that may occur soon after surgery, injury, or severe illness.
However, the Link is Still Somewhat Uncertain
The researchers determined that the effect remained elevated after excluding early deaths suggests the relationship between Low-T and mortality is not merely due to insufferable illness.
That being said, since the current research is a retrospective study that depends on old medical records, it was forced to deduce that low Testosterone and increased mortality are linked, but not precisely how they are connected.
To determine that, future research that follows a group of individuals over a long time is necessary.
"The men with low testosterone did have higher death rates, but it may be due to some other factor that we weren't able to measure," Shores told Live Science.
Shores additionally stressed that the veterans are a unique subset of the population that suffers from more tribulations (both service-related and non-service related) and that future research should consider more diverse groups of men.
"They were probably more medically ill than most men their age," she said. "They all had an average of about five chronic illnesses."
Shores was cautious about recommending Testosterone replacement therapy for aging men, saying the conclusions of the study were unable to establish a definitive link between low Testosterone and early death.
Also, the risks and benefits of testosterone replacement therapy are not completely known.
"There's no link between testosterone replacement and prostate cancer, but the studies that have been done aren't big enough to detect if there's a link or not," Shores said.
If you are interested in increasing your Testosterone levels, contact our clinic for a free, no-obligation discussion.
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