More Men Taking Testosterone, but Risks Unclear
Study finds upsurge in use among men worried about 'low T,' but research suggests the drug has hazards
By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
MONDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- Those late-night ads telling aging men that "low T" may be the reason they've lost the spring in their step appear to be reaching their audience. Use of testosterone therapy has increased dramatically over the past decade, according to a new study.
But experts worry that too many men may be taking the supplements without understanding the potential risks.
Researchers at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston pointed out that the development of new drugs, particularly topical gels, also likely played a role in this trend.
The study, published in the current issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, involved more than 10 million men aged 40 years and older. The researchers found use of testosterone therapy was three times higher in 2011 than it was in 2001. Over the course of the decade, testosterone therapy increased from 0.81 percent to 2.91 percent.
The investigators noted that 2.29 percent of men in their 40s and 3.75 percent of men in their 60s were taking some form of testosterone therapy by 2011.
While sales may be booming, the risks involved with supplements of the powerful male hormone remain uncertain. One study presented last month at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association suggests that use of testosterone might be an underappreciated cause of male infertility.
The study, from the University of Alabama, found that sperm production bounced back to healthier levels when some men being treated at fertility clinics stopped using testosterone supplements.
Another study published at the same meeting found that many online vendors of testosterone supplements accentuate supposed benefits from the drug, but minimize the risk.
The study, which looked at 70 websites from companies across the United States, found that just 27 percent of the online vendors described potential side effects, which experts say can include liver problems, male breast growth, increased male pattern baldness, possible harm to prostate health, raised risks for blood clots, congestive heart failure and a worsening of urinary symptoms.