By Charlotte Libov | Wednesday, 13 Apr 2016 02:45 PM
A new study is adding to the growing evidence that testosterone therapy could help men preserve their health in the face of the decline that comes with aging, a top doctor says.
“For the last 50 years, doctors have known about the promise of testosterone, but it was frowned upon because of the possible risks. But now evidence is growing that this hormone could indeed be a fountain of youth for older men,” Dr. Chauncey Crandall tellsNewsmax Health.
Testosterone is a controversial topic. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration only approves it for men whose levels of the hormone is low due to medical reasons, but it has grown into a multi-billion-dollar anti-aging industry.
This latest study, from the Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City, finds that men with heart disease who were not on testosterone therapy had an 80 percent higher risk of suffering heart attack, stroke, or death.
“This is a very significant finding, and only the most recent to find that testosterone has a wide range of benefits for men as they age,” says Crandall, chief of the cardiac transplant program at the world-renowned Palm Beach Cardiovascular Clinic in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
Last year, the same research team did a study, which found that men who used testosterone replacement therapy to achieve normal or high hormone levels reduced their risk of heart attacks and death.
The researchers say their studies refute the FDA’s concern that replacement testosterone could increase heart and stroke risk. The agency added the warning to testosterone labels last year.
Testosterone is the sex hormone that is largely responsible for the sexual and reproductive development of men. A man’s level of testosterone peaks in his 30s and then starts to decline. As it does, men can develop health issues like fatigue, depression, and a diminished sex drives.
Supplemental testosterone helps with these issues, but it also boosts a man’s cardiac health as well, says Crandall.
“We don’t know exactly what it is about testosterone that helps the heart, but we do know that it lowers cholesterol, and it also makes the blood less likely to clot, both of which lead to lower heart attack risk,” says Crandall, author of the Heart Health Report.
“Also, testosterone leads to increased muscle mass, lack of depression, increased well-being, and an increased sexual life, so if you add these all up, they are going to contribute to a drastically reduced heart disease risk.”
Historically, though, doctors have been reluctant to prescribe testosterone due to the fears it could hike prostate cancer risk but this generally has been found not to be true, says Crandall.
“We’ve been afraid to prescribe testosterone because of the prostate cancer risk, but we are finding that it doesn’t increase risk. In some cases, the cancer may already be present and the addition of testosterone may cause it to present earlier, but research shows that if cancer is not there testosterone does not promote it,” he says.
Before deciding on testosterone, though, Crandall recommends the following steps:
• See your physician and get your testosterone level checked. There are two types of testosterone – free testosterone and bound testosterone. The test should measure the free testosterone level; otherwise the results may show a deceptively high level when the hormone is actually low.
• Pay attention to the way testosterone is administered. Methods that restore the body’s testosterone levels carefully, and without wild fluctuations, are preferable to large-dose injections, for instance.
• Testosterone replacement can cause the level of iron in the blood to rise, which may lead to an increased clotting likelihood, so this should be monitored.
• Testosterone is not a “magic bullet.” You still have to follow a healthy lifestyle to stay healthy and reduce heart disease risk.
Read more: Testosterone May Help Prevent Age-Related Decline in Men