It’s still June which is Men’s Health Month, so we’ll continue that theme buy discussing how testosterone relates to men’s health. I think a lot of people think of testosterone as just relating to muscles, sex drive, and feeling good (and certainly it does help in all of those areas!) and do not realize that testosterone deficiency has actual medical complications associated with it.
Just this year a study showed that low free testosterone was associated with increased risk of high grade and high stage prostate cancer. For many years there was concern that testosterone therapy could increase prostate cancer risk, but recent research is showing the opposite, that there is more risk with low testosterone. This brings up the idea that testosterone therapy may be protective against some forms of prostate cancer but that has not been proven.
Also, in recent years, low testosterone has associated with increased risk for cardiovascular events. This is of particular importance as heart disease is the number one killer of men. Some studies have shown that testosterone therapy may either not affect or may decrease risk for cardiovascular events, but recent consensus is that testosterone therapy is safe and effective in men with symptomatic testosterone deficiency. Low testosterone also impacts metabolic function, so rates of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes are increased in this group. Some studies have also shown improvement in these areas with testosterone therapy.
Other areas that are impacted by testosterone levels such as depression, dementia, osteoporosis and others are being studied. It goes without saying that testosterone is a vital component of a man’s health and therapy is safe for men with low levels, particular if the therapy is done properly and monitored closely.