Low levels of testosterone in men above the age of 50 may increase the long-term risk of death, says a new study.
Testosterone is the hormone that stimulates the development of male sexual organs, growth of facial and pubic hair, deepening of the voice and increased muscle mass.
It helps maintain one's sex drive and the production of sperm cells. Low testosterone levels can also cause depression as well as fatigue.
Gail Laughlin, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, studied 800 men over a 18-year period and found that those with low testosterone levels had a 33 percent increased risk of death than those with higher levels.
The study participants were aged between 50 and 91.
"Our study strongly suggests that the association between testosterone levels and death is not simply due to some acute illness," Laughlin said.
She added that one's lifestyle could determine testosterone levels and that it may be possible to alter them by lowering obesity and staying active, the online edition of BBC News reported.
At a meeting of The Endocrine Society in Toronto, researchers, however, said they did not recommend taking supplements to increase the levels of the hormone.
The use of testosterone supplements is contentious because of potential side effects, the researchers held.
"Instead you should adapt your lifestyle to keep your body in shape and make the best of your testosterone," said one of the researchers.