Testosterone part II
In Part 1, we looked at the subject of male testosterone levels in general; noting how they peak at around age 25 and begin to drop rapidly after about age 30. We looked at blood testing; mentioning that we need to know how much testosterone is actually available to our bodies, and that for optimum health, we’d like to see those levels in the upper third of the normal range. We also examined where the greatest number of testosterone receptors are found in the body, specifically (in descending order), the heart, brain, bones, muscle and connective tissue, the fat cells, and finally where we’d expect—in our sex organs. Lastly, we noted the warning signs of low testosterone: aches and pains, fatigue, depression, reduced self-confidence, fear- fulness and irritability—all factors that would tend to reduce our enjoyment of motorcycling.
In this article I’d like to cover current studies on testosterone replacement and how restoring youthful testosterone lev- els can improve your health.
Mortality is considered the risk of dying. In the Journal of Circulation, 2007; 116:2694-2701, a 10-year study on 11,606 men ages 40–79 years found that high natural testosterone levels result in low mortality from cardiovascular disease and cancer. Conversely, low testosterone predicts cardiovascular disease.
How about testosterone and brain function? In Hormones and Behavior, 1998; 33(2):85-94, it was found that testosterone replacement therapy resulted in increased cognitive function. Further, in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2010, Aug. 6, a study of 153 men with the average age of 72.7 years found that higher levels of testosterone lower the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Now let’s talk about the heart. Four major studies show low testosterone increases the risk of cardiovascular dis- ease, cancer and all causes of mortality. See the Journal of Circulation 2007; 116:2694E701. The Journal of American Geriatrics Society 2004; 52:2077, The Journal of Circulation 2007; 116:2694e70, Heart 2010:96:1821-1825, and Archives of Internal Medicine 2006; 166:1660E5. Also, in the Journal of Circulation, 2000 Oct. 17; 102(16):1906-11, men using a 5mg patch of testosterone showed significant reduction in exercise- induced myocardial ischemia or angina. Men were able to physically do more before angina ensued, they were less limited and they had less pain.
In the Journal of the American College
of Cardiology 2009 Sept. 1; 54(10):919- 27, it is noted that patients with congestive heart failure treated with testosterone experienced improved exercise capacity, improved musculoskeletal performance and improved insulin resistance in a double-blind placebo control randomized study. And there are dozens of other studies in major medical peer-reviewed journals that report similar benefits.
How about blood pressure and testosterone? Hypertension 1988 April; 6(4):329-32, noted that there is an inverse relationship between blood pressure and endogenous testosterone. As we’ve mentioned, testosterone increases blood flow and increases nitrous oxide.
There are also multiple studies show- ing that a decline in testosterone is responsible for frailty syndrome, and in fact, lower free testosterone is a predictor of frailty in older men according to JCEM, Vol. 95, No. 7, page 3165-3172.
Also, The American Journal of Physiology, Physiological Endocrinology Metabolism 2007 found that testosterone supplementation increases growth hormone production during sleep. Growth hormone is what some Hollywood Stars and athletes inject daily which costs them over $1000/month. To produce more growth hormone naturally, one can per- form interval type aerobics or lift weights, especially squats.
Diabetes is a major risk factor for heart disease and multiple organ failure, as a diabetic’s blood is thicker. In fact, testosterone protects against the development of diabetes, high blood pressure, high lipids and cardiovascular disease in aging men. In a study published in The Aging Male, 2003 March; 6(1):1-7,testosterone treatment caused a decrease in obesity.
What about strength and muscle mass? In Mayo Clinic Procedures 2000 Jan.; 75, suppl:S70-5, it is noted that hormone treatment gave improved strength even without exercise, as well as markedly improved muscle mass with exercise.
Let’s now talk about side effects. There is a paradoxical fear among many med- ical providers who think that giving testosterone will cause prostate cancer, although multiple studies have proven otherwise. In the National Cancer Institute 2008, 100:170-183, in a study that included 3,886 men with prostate cancer and 6,438 controls, there were no associations found between testosterone, calculated free testosterone, many other break- down products of testosterone, and cancer. In the Journal of Prostate Cancer, Prostatic Disease 2006; 9(1):14-8, it is noted that 16 studies were reviewed, some of which were placebo-controlled, which lasted up to 15 years, and there was no increased risk found over the back- ground prevalence.
Dr. Abraham Morgentaler, Harvard urologist, is the world’s foremost authority on testosterone and prostate cancer, and he states, “There is not now, nor has there ever been, a scientific basis for the belief that testosterone causes prostate cancer to grow.”
However, there are some potential adverse effects to testosterone treatment. 1. Increase in red blood cells. The body makes more red blood cells when a man is on testosterone replacement therapy. This raises endurance and increases energy. However, if the hematocrit rises above 55, a man should consider donating blood once or twice a year, or simply lower the
2. As the aromatase enzyme in men’s
fat cells converts testosterone into estrogen, men can develop breasts from too much estrogen. If this starts to be a problem, a doctor can recommend over-the- counter zinc and or crysyn or can prescribe an estrogen blocker in order to block the aromatase enzyme.
3. Decreased testicular volume. If this occurs, a doctor can either prescribe HCG (the female pregnancy hormone that is currently being widely used for weight loss), twice a week or Clomid 50mg to be taken two times a week.
4. Decreased sperm count.
5. Fluid retention has been reported rarely.
I hope that what I have shared in this column will convince you that testosterone treatment is not only safe, but in fact can significantly improve overall health. If you suffer from low testosterone and cannot get to the upper one-third of normal on testosterone replacement cream, ask your doctor what other forms of testosterone he or she can offer you.