Testosterone replacement therapy in older men decreases risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and benefits them in other ways, according to two new studies.
Testosterone deficiency becomes more pronounced with age, affecting 18 percent of 70-year-olds, said a co-author of both studies, Farid Saad, of the Berlin-based Bayer Schering Pharma.
Low testosterone levels are linked to a cluster of metabolic risk factors that increase the chances of developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and other health problems, including loss of bone and muscle mass, depression, and decreased libido.
Saad's research showed that restoring testosterone to normal levels in the hormone-deficient men led to major and progressive improvement in their metabolic syndrome condition.
Men above 63 years benefited as much as younger men. Treatment lasted a year and used a slow-release, injectable form of the hormone (testosterone undecanoate).
All 95 men in the studies, aged 34 to 69 years, had the metabolic syndrome that includes three of the following five risk factors: increased abdominal fat, low HDL or good cholesterol, high triglycerides (fats in the blood), high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.
The first study showed that testosterone treatment significantly reduced waist circumference, bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and body mass index.
The treatment also increased “good” cholesterol. Improvements were progressive over 12 months, indicating that benefits may continue past a year, Saad said.
In the second study, the researchers divided the patients into three groups by age. They found the older men had similar improvements in metabolic risk factors as compared to younger men.
Men whose subnormal testosterone levels were not as low as the others had similar improvements in metabolic risk factors to men with the lowest levels, according to Saad.
“We conclude that if elderly men have a deficiency of testosterone, it is worthwhile to treat them with testosterone,” he said.
The results of the study are to be presented Thursday at The Endocrine Society's 90th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.