Why you Should Not Fear Testosterone Therapy
Testosterone, to some it’s a bad word, bringing crazy images like “roid rage” and the like. To others with more than just a pop culture understanding it is a lifesaver. In fact, prescriptions for older men in the United States have increased more than three-fold over the past decade. Unfortunately recent studies linking testosterone use with increased risk of heart attack and stroke have caused widespread concern among patients and their families. The validity of those studies [and their methods] have been in question and [yet another] new study aims to help end the confusion. The new U.S.-based study of more than 25,000 older men shows that testosterone therapy does not increase men’s risk for heart attack.
The study examined 25,420 Medicare beneficiaries 66 years or older treated with testosterone for up to eight years. Studies like this one are tough to do so the researchers used public health data to wade through the claims.
“Our investigation was motivated by a growing concern, in the U.S. and internationally, that testosterone therapy increases men’s risk for cardiovascular disease, specifically heart attack and stroke,” said Jacques Baillargeon, UTMB associate professor of epidemiology in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and lead author of the study. “This concern has increased in the last few years based on the results of a clinical trial and two observational studies,” he said. “It is important to note, however, that there is a large body of evidence that is consistent with our finding of no increased risk of heart attack associated with testosterone use.”
In recent years, testosterone replacement therapy has grown to $1.6 billion annually as men seek to supplement low testosterone counts with products that increases muscle tone, sex drive, energy and elevate mood [low testosterone has been shown to cause depression in men]. Previous safety investigations presented conflicting findings. A few of these studies suggested testosterone is linked with increased risk of heart attack, although critics of those studies have questioned the quality of these data. One thing is for sure though, Doctors, researchers and government agencies all agree that more research into this issue is necessary.
The Food and Drug Administration decided June 20 to expand labeling on testosterone products to include a general warning about the risk of blood clots in veins, a horrible move in my personal opinion since risks are so low you might as well throw aneurysm warnings on bumper cars]. The FDA and European Medicines Agency are also further examining the safety of these products. This newest FDA warning comes shortly after the announcement that several testosterone treatment manufacturers, including Abbott Laboratories, AbbVie Inc., Eli Lilly and Company, Pfizer and Actavis, are facing a consolidated multidistrict litigation in Federal Court based on claims that they hid the risks of using testosterone treatments [again only hurting the people that benefit from hormone replacement therapy].
This new study evaluated enrollment and claims Medicare data for a clinically and socioeconomically diverse national sample treated with testosterone from 1997-2005. It should be noted that men of the same age, race, Medicaid eligibility, and health status who did not receive testosterone therapy were used as a control group for comparison.
The analyses show that testosterone therapy was not associated with an increased risk of heart attack. Further, testosterone users with a higher probability of cardiovascular problems had a lower rate of heart attacks in comparison to equivalent patients who did not receive testosterone therapy.
“This is a rigorous analysis of a large number of patients,” said Baillargeon. “Our findings did not show an increased risk of heart attack associated with testosterone use in older men,” he said. “However, large–scale, randomized clinical trials will provide more definitive evidence regarding these risks in the coming years.”
For those interested this isn’t the first blog post I’ve written on the subject, in fact I basically am repeating myself here. It should be also noted that things like “roid rage” and depression associated with testosterone use aren’t real, they are media fabrication to sensationalize a rather benign story. The facts are the exact opposite when you look at the [admittedly little] good data. Hormone replacement therapy or more specifically testosterone replacement therapy [TRT] can make a world of difference in a persons life, it would be sad to see that taken away by fear mongering and lies spread by people who aren’t qualified to talk about such things.
My parting words, if you think you may have low testosterone, you can check and be treated for it. Why should you suffer from something that can be fixed, the fact is that why live longer if you can’t actually enjoy it? Quality of life is just as important, if not more so, than quantity of life.
Want more? You can find the full study —here!
Baillargeon J., Urban R.J., Kuo Y.F., Ottenbacher K.J. & Raji M.A. (2014). Risk of Myocardial Infarction in Older Men Receiving Testosterone Therapy, The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, DOI: 10.1177/1060028014539918
Miner M., Gary Blick, Harvey Kushner & Mohit Khera (2013). 12-Month Observation of Testosterone Replacement Effectiveness in a General Population of Men, Postgraduate Medicine, 125 (2) 8-18. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3810/pgm.2013.03.2637
Almeida O.P., Graeme J. Hankey, Konrad Jamrozik & Leon Flicker (2008). Low Free Testosterone Concentration as a Potentially Treatable Cause of Depressive Symptoms in Older Men, Archives of General Psychiatry, 65 (3) 283. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/archgenpsychiatry.2007.33