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Hormone Replacement for Men: Pros, Cons

Testosterone Replacement May Lower Risk of Heart Disease, Diabetes, Death, but Long-Term Effects Unclear
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Testosterone Replacement Therapy: Test Results

"We saw a consistent improvement of the parameters of metabolic syndrome," Saad says. The men were not given a special diet or exercise program.

The supplemental testosterone reduced total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and body mass index while improving "good" HDL cholesterol. The men lost their pot bellies, Saad says. "What we see after 12 months is a reduction in two or three trouser sizes, three or four inches off the waist. We see a reduction by one-fourth to one-third of their total cholesterol."

No adverse effects were reported, he says.

While hormone replacement therapy for women has been found to be associated with increased risks of heart disease and other problems, Saad doesn't foresee that will be the case with testosterone replacement. "There are fundamental differences between hormone replacement in women and testosterone treatment in men," he tells WebMD.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy: No Age Effects?

In a second study, Saad divided the same 95 men into three groups, based on age: less than 57, 57 to 63, and older than 63.

They found the older men and the younger men had similar improvement in their risk factors.

Testosterone Replacement Therapy: Follow-up

"There are some precautions with testosterone supplementation," Saad tells WebMD. "We need to monitor the prostate."

"It is well known that with prostate cancer, the cancer is usually dependent on testosterone. Prostate cancer is a slow-growing tumor." Cancer of the gland must be ruled out before starting supplements, he says. He also advises routine prostate checkups while on treatment.

A test to monitor red blood cell formation, called a hematocrit, is needed, too. "Testosterone increases red blood cells," he says. In excess, it can theoretically boost heart attack or stroke risk.

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