Testosterone Use for Aging Questioned
Mayo Clinic Study Shows Little Known About Risks, Benefits
WebMD News Archive
Analyzing the Risks
Montori and colleagues in two different analyses reviewed studies examining
the impact on sexual dysfunction and risk for heart diseaseand stroke.
Small to moderate improvements were seen in erectile function and libido,
but the researchers concluded the sexual studies were inconsistent.
They also found the studies examining risk for heart disease and stroke to
be lacking, saying large trials of men at risk for cardiovascular disease are
"We have a situation where physicians and patients are essentially in
the same boat," Montori says. "Neither is fully informed about
testosterone therapy, because the long-term research just hasn't been
The researchers' reviews are published in the January issue of the journal
Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
The Lesson of Estrogen
Better studies are urgently needed, Montori says, to avoid repeating what he
calls "the estrogen disaster."
Millions of women took estrogen to protect against a wide range of diseases
associated with aging, until a major study
linked estrogen's use by older women to an increased risk of heart disease and
"I would contend that the quality of the evidence that we have about the
safety and efficacy of testosterone therapy is much weaker than the evidence
that we had when we were prescribing estrogen for just about everything,"
In a review of the research published late in 2003, an expert panel convened
by the Institute of Medicine also found little evidence of the effectiveness
and long-term safety of testosterone therapy in healthy, aging men.
That group called for large studies designed to examine the risks and
benefits of testosterone therapy for such men.
Dan G. Blazer, MD, of Duke University, who lead the panel, tells WebMD we
know little more about these risks and benefits today than we did three years
"We don't have a clear picture of side effects, so we can't say that
this drug is dangerous," he says.
"But, on the other hand, we don't have a lot of evidence that it is
effective," says Blazer. "My concern is that its use as an antiaging
drug will explode before we have the answers."