Testosterone promotes a longer life

  1. Testosterone promotes a longer life

    Low levels of testosterone may increase the long-term risk of death in men over 50 years old, according to researchers with the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.
    "The new study is only the second report linking deficiency of this sex hormone with increased death from all causes, over time, and the first to do so in relatively healthy men who are living in the community," said Gail Laughlin, Ph.D., assistant professor and study author.

    Laughlin will present the findings to The Endocrine Society Tuesday June 5th, 2007. The findings will be among selected articles published in the distinguished The Endocrine Society's ENDO 07 Research Summaries Book.

    "We have followed these men for an average of 18 years and our study strongly suggests that the association between testosterone levels and death is not simply due to some acute illness," said Laughlin.

    In the study, Laughlin and co-workers looked at death, no matter the cause, in nearly 800 men, ages 50 to 91 years, who were living in Rancho Bernardo, California. The participants have been members of the Rancho Bernardo Heart and Chronic Disease Study since the 1970s. At the beginning of the 1980s, almost one-third of these men had suboptimal blood testosterone levels for men their age.

    The group with low testosterone levels had a 33 percent greater risk of death during the next 18 years than the men with higher testosterone. This difference was not explained by smoking, drinking, physical activity level or pre-existing diseases (such as diabetes or heart disease).

    In this study, "low testosterone" levels were set at the lower limit of the normal range for young adult men. Testosterone declines slowly with aging in men and levels vary widely, with many older men still having testosterone levels in the range of young men. Twenty-nine percent of Rancho Bernardo men had low testosterone.

    Distinguishing Factors

    Men with low testosterone were more likely to have elevated markers of inflammation, called inflammatory cytokines, which contribute to many diseases. Another characteristic that distinguished the men with low testosterone was a larger waist girth along with a cluster of cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors related to this type of fat accumulation.
    Men with low testosterone are three times more likely to have the metabolic syndrome than men with higher testosterone levels; metabolic syndrome is the name for the presence of three or more of these risk factors:

    -- waist measurement more than 40 inches in men (more than 35 inches in women),
    -- low HDL (good) cholesterol,
    -- high triglycerides (levels of fat in the blood),
    -- high blood pressure
    -- high blood glucose (blood sugar)

    While the study lends support to the belief that supplemental hormone therapy may help older men with low testosterone levels, those who practice weight control and increase their physical activity may also live longer.

    "Itís very possible that lifestyle determines what level of testosterone a patient has," commented principal investigator, Elizabeth Barrett-Connor, M.D., UCSD Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine and chief of the Division of Epidemiology. "It may be possible to alter the testosterone level by lowering obesity."

    Barrett-Connor and Laughlin were also careful to clarify what the study did not show.

    "The study did show there may be an association between low testosterone levels and higher mortality. It did not show that higher levels of testosterone are associated with decreased mortality," explained Laughlin. Researchers agree only randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials can determine whether testosterone supplements can safely promote longer life. Such a trial is in the planning stages at UCSD.

    Barrett-Connor cautioned, "We are very excited about these findings, which have important implications, but we are not ready to say that men should go out and get testosterone to prolong their lives. Weíre not ready to take this to the prescribing pharmacist."

    "Conventional wisdom is that women live longer because estrogen is good and testosterone is bad," said Barrett-Connor. "We donít know. Maybe the decline in testosterone is healthy and comes with older age. Maybe the decline is bad and is associated with chronic diseases of aging."

    The National Institute on Aging and the American Heart Association funded the study.

  2. makes sense.

  3. Nice. I hope society fixes it's view on test and hopefully de-demonizes it. Anytime when you blanket write off a drug / chemical there can be immense damage from that ( if the chemical / drug is helpful in some way ).

    The few usually ruin it for the masses.

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