Older men with testosterone levels in the middle range tend to live longer than men with levels of the hormone that are either too low or too high, a new Australian study has found. The study, published in The Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), underscores some of the dangers men may face when they use testosterone replacement drugs to boost hormone levels that aren’t chronically low.
According to the study’s lead author Dr. Bu Beng Yeap of the University of Western Australia, when testosterone is metabolized by the body, it produces dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a natural chemical linked to lower risks of ischemic heart disease. Men who achieve an ideal testosterone level have higher DHT levels that appear to help them stay healthy as they grow older, Dr. Yeap and his fellow researchers found.
In the study, researchers monitored the testosterone and DHT levels in 3,690 men ranging in age from 70 to 89 in Perth, Australia. Measurements were taken regularly from 2001 to 2004 and their survival rates were recorded through December 2010.
The study’s authors found that men with the lowest testosterone levels had the highest mortality rate. Men with the highest testosterone levels had the second-highest mortality rate, while men with moderate testosterone levels generally lived longer.
The study adds further validation that excessive testosterone may generate chronic health problems in men – a conclusion reached by previous studies, including a Boston University analysis that was stopped in 2010 that linked testosterone supplements with higher rates of cardiovascular problems.
“Sex hormones are an important predictor of mortality in older men, but we haven’t determined if treatments to change testosterone and DHT levels can alter these outcomes,” Dr. Yeap said. “Additional research into these findings, including randomized clinical trials, could help identify ways to leverage this information to improve health in older men.”