Testosterone May Be Safe for Prostate
Testosterone Replacement Therapy Doesn't Raise Prostate Cancer Risk, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
Nov. 14, 2006 -- Testosterone replacement therapy in older men may not raise
the risk of prostate cancer, as once thought.
A small, new study shows that short-term testosterone replacement therapy
(TRT) among men with low testosterone has little effect on the prostate
The male hormone is involved in prostate growth, and previous studies have
shown giving testosterone to men with advanced prostate cancer often makes the
Concerns have risen over the growing trend of prescribing testosterone to
older men to treat symptoms associated with declining testosterone levels,
known as male menopause.
Testosterone levels among men decline with age, and in some men low
testosterone levels may cause symptoms including depression, sexual
dysfunction, decreased muscle mass, and lower bone density.
More than 1.8 million prescriptions for testosterone products were written
in the U.S. in 2002, a 170% increase over the previous five years, according to
pharmaceutical industry estimates.
But the risk of prostate cancer also rises with age, and researchers say
more study is needed to determine if long-term testosterone replacement therapy
is safe for the prostate.
Testosterone Therapy OK?
In the study, researchers examined the effects on the prostate of
testosterone replacement therapy in 40 men. The men were aged 44 to 78 and had
low testosterone levels.
The men received 150 milligrams of either testosterone or a placebo via
injection every two weeks for six months.
Biopsies performed on prostate tissue taken from the men before and after
the study showed testosterone levels within the prostate increased only
slightly among the men who received testosterone therapy, although their blood
levels of the hormone increased to normal levels.
No treatment-related change in the number of cancer cases or cancer severity
"The prostate risks to men undergoing TRT may not be as great as once
believed, especially if the results of the pretreatment biopsy are
negative," writes researcher Leonard Marks, MD, of the UCLA School of
Medicine, and colleagues in The Journal of The American Medical
Researchers say larger studies are needed to determine the long-term safety
of testosterone replacement therapy among older men.