Raw deal: Testosterone treatment increases cardiac risks


Having low testosterone levels may affect a man's sex drive, mood and energy, but you should think twice about using male hormone products because getting testosterone treatments may increase your risks of heart attacks.

A new research published in the journal PLoS ONE Jan. 29 supports findings of previous smaller studies that suggest use of "low T" therapy can increase risks of heart attack, stroke and even death in men.

For the study, the researchers from Consolidated Research, the U.S. National Cancer Institute and the University of California in Los Angeles used data from Truven Health Analytics to examine records of more than 55,000 men. They found that heart attack rates doubled in men younger than 65 who already have existing heart problems in the 90 days since getting a testosterone prescription.While male hormone products are aggressively marketed to older men, testosterone treatment also doubles the risks in men who are over 65 years old whether or not they have a heart disease.

The risk has likewise tripled in men who are more than 75 years old. The researchers also observed that the risks declined to baseline level in men who did not refill their initial prescription. The study, however, did not prove a cause and effect relationship although it showed evidence of link between testosterone therapy and increased cardiac risks.

Increased heart attack risks isn't the only thing men taking testosterone treatment should worry about. A study released in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) last December, suggests that men with higher levels of male hormone likely have weak or no response to flu vaccine which means they have weaker immune systems, making them vulnerable to infections.

Sander Greenland, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, who led the "Increased Risk of Non-Fatal Myocardial Infarction Following Testosterone Therapy Prescription in Men" study said patients should weigh on risks before taking male hormone products.

"The extensive and rapidly increasing use of testosterone treatment and the evidence of risk of heart attack underscore the urgency of further large studies of the risks and the benefits of this treatment," he said. "Patients and their physicians should discuss the risk of heart attacks when considering testosterone therapy."

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