Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Testosterone Treatments Linked To Heart Risks

USA Today reports on a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
November 6, 2013

Testosterone treatments may increase risks for heart attacks, stokes and death in older men with low hormone levels and other health problem, a big Veterans Affairs study suggests.

The results raise concerns about the widely used testosterone gels, patches, or injections that are heavily marketed for low sex drive, fatigue and purported anti-aging benefits, the authors and other doctors said.

Men who used testosterone were 30 percent more likely to have a heart attack or stroke or to die during a three-year period than men with low hormone levels who didn’t take the supplements. Hormone users and nonusers were in their early 60s on average, and most had other health problems including high blood pressure, unhealthy cholesterol and diabetes.

This is not the first study to show increased risk from using testosterone as HRT (hormone replacement therapy). It’s making big news because of the dramatic increase in prescriptions for testosterone in the past few years. Over 5 million men used testosterone in the US with sales totaling 1.6 billion dollars in 2011. Just look at the recent television ads and you know those numbers are much higher today.

More than 50% of men over the age of 45 suffer some form of sexual dysfunction. This is really a statement about our declining health as a nation and the generally accepted idea that we can just cover up some of the symptoms with drugs (in this case hormones) and the problem will go away. As men age, testosterone production shifts from the testicles to the adrenals. However, many men do not have the good general health to make the transition. Long term adrenal stress, poor liver function, and subclinical hypothyroidism are behind this and many of our chronic, degenerative diseases. Metabolic syndrome is the name given to the list of predisposing factors that ultimately lead to diabetes, heart disease, and death.

Several herbs are commonly used to support healthy adrenal function. Clinical studies have showed marked improvement in both testosterone and sexual function with the use of Tribulus, Korean Ginseng, Ashwaganda, and Rehmannia. The South American herb Maca also shows great promise, but needs more research. These herbs are all adaptogens, not only supporting repair and regeneration of the adrenal glands, they also repair DNA as shown by DNA fragmentation studies on human sperm.

If you suffer from low testosterone levels, have an evaluation with a qualified nutritionist. First address your general health. It’s quite possible that improving your health will resolve the hormone deficiency.