Studies show benefits and risks of testosterone treatment in older men

Indeed, another trial published Tuesday, which was not part of the TTrials, showed a lower risk of cardiovascular events, including heart attack or stroke, in men who'd received testosterone, on average, for 3.4 years.

Testosterone had no effect on memory or mental function, based on tests given before, halfway and at the end of treatment to almost 500 men with age-related memory decline. Co-author and researcher of the study, Ronald S. Swerdloff, MD, of LA BioMed noted that "We want to emphasize that this study was exploratory and emphasizes the need for a large-scale, well-controlled, long-term safety trial to determine if there is an increased risk of heart damage or death". Studies of the risks and benefits have been mixed, and the Food and Drug Administration beefed up its warnings about cardiac side effects of testosterone supplementation in 2015.

The results are from a big research project funded by the National Institute on Aging.

The results showed that after an year of testosterone treatment, men over 65 years of age with low testosterone significantly increased bone density and estimated bone strength compared to those on placebo. In addition to low testosterone, the presence of complaints such as low sexual function, difficulty in walking or low vitality was required for eligibility to participate in the trials. Testosterone Treatment and Coronary Artery Plaque Volume in Older Men With Low Testosterone. After one year of treatment, 54 percent of the men with unexplained anemia and 52 percent of those with anemia from known causes had clinically significant increases in hemoglobin (red blood cell) levels, compared with 15 percent and 12 percent, respectively, of those in the placebo group. The results were greater in the spine than the hip.

"Final decisions about testosterone treatment for older men will depend on balancing the results from these seven TTrials with the results from a much larger and longer term trial created to assess cardiovascular and prostate risk in the future", said Snyder.

Testosterone therapy for older men possibly could provide some benefit, but there's also signs it could cause harm, according to a major series of studies published today.

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The first published research from the TTrials past year reported on some of the benefits to testosterone treatment.

However, the study of 8,808 men was observational. After 12 months, they found that the testosterone group had better bone density and a reduced risk of developing anaemia.

In decades of research, scientists have found only one medical condition that's clearly and effectively treated with testosterone supplements: pathological hypogonadism-that's low testosterone levels due to disease of the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, or testes.

That's why some doctors prescribe testosterone replacement. And other drugs may be more effective at treating anemia and improving bone mass than testosterone.

ELLENBERG: The volume of plaque increased more on the testosterone arm than on the placebo arm.

How do you know if you have low testosterone? "Maybe testosterone could be a reasonable substitute for all three".

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But for cardiovascular health, there was an effect-a bad one.

Four clinical trials examine the effect of testosterone therapy in men aged 65 and older.

"I would say, ‚We have uncertainty about the health effects of testosterone and your risk of heart attacks". Having low testosterone can deflate your libido and leave you more susceptible to fractures. Testosterone treatment didn't improve patients' cognitive function, and it increased the amount of plaque buildup in the participants' coronary arteries. Those changes could signal increased chances for heart attacks although none occurred in the study.

NEIGHMOND: Longer-term research is needed, she says, to make sure stronger bones mean fewer fractures as men age.

Dr. Sergei Romashkan is chief of the clinical trials branch in the NIA's division of geriatrics and clinical gerontology. "The overall health benefits, however, remain to be determined", the researchers said.

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