MedPage Today is reporting a Veteran’s Affair study which indicates that men with and without coronary artery disease who received testosterone supplements had a higher risk of death, heart attack and stroke. The current study looked at 8709 veterans who underwent coronary angiography between 2005 and 2011 and had a testosterone level less than 300 ng/dL. These findings surprised researchers who had looked at a previous VA study that suggested that testosterone therapy reduced cardiovascular risk.
Steven Nissen, MD of the Cleveland Clinic, a world respected cardiologist felt the study was a “red flag” that “demands attention from not just physicians but also from regulators.” He is concerned about the “increasingly commonly prescribed (testosterone replacement therapy) “practice which is largely “fueled by direct to consumer advertising that’s urging men to get tested for low testosterone and then to seek replacement.” Nissen pointed out that in both men and women a drop in hormone levels is a normal part of aging and it is not necessarily a disease. “Making it into a disease may end up causing more harm than good.”
Anne R. Coppola, MD of the University of Pennsylvania in an editorial noted that “what is missing from the literature are data from randomized trials that include a sufficient numbers of men for an adequate amount of time to assess the long term benefits and risks of testosterone therapy.” She cited a small study called the Testosterone Trial in Older Men which had to be stopped early because of a higher rate of cardiovascular events “in the group taking testosterone.
In our market you cannot turn on a sports talk radio show or ride down an Interstate highway without seeing ads for “Low- T Syndrome.” It is a highly profitable cash business being fueled by testimonials and word of mouth rather than well planned medical studies. Legitimate research is ongoing at Harvard Medical School but it is difficult for others to obtain funding when the producers of the product can make so much money based on here say and nothing else. The number of prescriptions for testosterone products has increased since 2000 from 5.3 million to 1.6 billion. The American College of Endocrinology has clear and strict guidelines on when supplementation in young men is appropriate. There is a large anti-aging medical community who feel that even if you are older and have normal levels you will feel better and benefit from supplementation. This research questions that feeling and begs for regulators to step in and stop an unproven possibly dangerous practice until we have more data.
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