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New Study Examines Testosterone Therapy Effects on Atherosclerosis

testosterone therapyOver the past two years there have been a handful of studies regarding the cardiovascular safety of testosterone replacement therapy use in older men. Just last year, research published in the medical journal PLOS One showed that Low T supplements may increase the average man’s risk of cardiovascular injury or heart attack by 36 percent.  And this risk is significantly higher for men over the age of 65 with a history of heart disease.

Now emerging research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) sought to determine testosterone gel side effects on the progression of atherosclerosis in older men with low-to-normal testosterone levels. Atherosclerosis – the build-up of plaque within the arteries – eventually narrows the vessels, limiting vital blood flow to organs.

Since atherosclerosis is associated with both coronary heart disease and carotid artery disease, which can lead to stroke, heart attack and death, the condition is a life-threatening problem and one to be watched closely. There are no definitive causes of atherosclerosis in men or women, however risk factors such as poor diet, smoking and lack of physical activity can increase one’s chances of developing this common health problem.

Study looks at testosterone & atherosclerosis progression

The 3-year study, entitled “Testosterone’s Effects on Atherosclerosis Progression in Aging Men” (TEAAM) was a double-blind, placebo-controlled and randomized trial that included 308 men 60 years or older. The participants had low or low-to-normal testosterone levels (100-400 ng/dL; free testosterone <50 pg/mL). The researchers had 156 randomly selected participants take 7.5 g of 1% testosterone while another 152 received placebo gel packets daily over the course of the study. Dosages were moderated to achieve testosterone levels between 500-900ng/dL.

The results showed that testosterone gel vs a placebo gel did not result in a significant difference in the rates of change in plaque buildup in the carotid artery or coronary artery, nor did it improve overall sexual function or health-related quality of life.

The researchers concluded that “Because this trial was only powered to evaluate atherosclerosis progression, these findings should not be interpreted as establishing cardiovascular safety of testosterone use in older men.”

While testosterone therapy did not seem to affect the rates of atherosclerosis in participants, it also showed no effect on the men’s erectile function, libido or partner intimacy when compared to the placebo group.

Testosterone gel side effects lead to lawsuits

Testosterone replacement therapy is supposed to positively affect sex drive, erectile function, muscle mass and overall energy levels in men. But the supplement, whether administered as a patch, gel or pill, is only approved for men with clinically low testosterone levels, who suffer from a condition known as hypogonadism. This hasn’t stopped doctors from prescribing products like Androgel and Testim to millions of mature men, who were simply battling the normal symptoms of middle age.

Studies and growing litigation has suggested that testosterone therapy is associated with a heightened risk of serious side effects, most notably blood-clot problems such as deep vein thrombosis, heart attack, pulmonary embolism and stroke. Thousands of men who had no medical need for testosterone therapy may have been inadvertently exposing themselves to needless injury by taking Low T products.

A number of men have already filed testosterone lawsuits against makers of Androgel and other popular supplements, claiming that companies failed to warn of risks, and were negligent and deceitful in their marketing.

  1. JAMA, Effects of Testosterone Administration for 3 Years on Subclinical Atherosclerosis Progression in Older Men With Low or Low-Normal Testosterone LevelsA Randomized Clinical Trial

  2. PLOS One, Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infarction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men