Low T Treatments Tied to Heart Risks

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testosterone-treatments-cardiac-risksA study of senior men has found that testosterone treatments are associated with dangerous cardiac risks and have no proven benefits.

The large Veterans Affairs (VA) study analyzed senior men who had been diagnosed with low hormone levels and other health issues, and reviewed the way in which they reacted to testosterone treatments, including reactions such as heart attack, stroke, and death, the Associated Press (AP) wrote.

Testosterone gels, patches, and injections are marketed as treatments for so-called “Low T,” a largely invented condition for which no true diagnosis exists. Massive advertising efforts have been dedicated to Low T, which appears to simply be another term for the normal male aging process. Treatments have been tied to significant adverse reactions, according to the AP.

In the same way that women age and experience a drop in estrogen levels, so, too, do men experience a normal drop in testosterone levels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved testosterone treatments for “for use in men who either no longer produce the male sex hormone testosterone or produce it in very low amounts,” which is different than what occurs during normal aging. Generally, the products were prescribed for the treatment of very specific disorders, including 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 those men who were not taking a testosterone supplement. This study’s findings were similar to results seen in a prior study, the AP reported.

The study, which was conducted at VA’s Eastern Colorado Health system, included 8,700 veterans and found that testosterone risks occurred in men taking supplemental testosterone regardless of existing cardiac issues, according to the AP. About 26 percent of the men using a testosterone supplement experienced a so-called “bad” outcome within three years of the study’s first cardiac test. Results appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Meanwhile, no established data confirms that taking a testosterone supplement is safe in any group and experts say more research is needed on the matter.

Testosterone treatments have been associated with a number of adverse reactions such as 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 experience early puberty with symptoms including enlarged penis or clitoris, premature pubic hair development, increased erections and sex drive, and aggressive behavior. Women may experience body hair changes and increased acne.