Increasing numbers of physicians are questioning whether testosterone replacement therapy to boost libido, muscle mass and mood may do more harm than good. Recent studies have linked testosterone therapy to an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
News of the study results rang loudly throughout America, where nearly 3 percent of men older than 40 are using prescription testosterone supplements as a “fountain of youth.” And they didn’t come blindly to their doctors in search of a cure. Many were swayed by heavy marketing campaigns waged by drug companies concocting a disorder they called “Low T,” and urging men to talk to their doctors to see if they were candidates for the treatment.
As commercials promoting testosterone therapy peaked on the airwaves, the gels, patches and injections seemed too good to be true. The short-term effects were generally positive – restoring sex drive and giving men more energy than they had in years.
Among the biggest concerns for the treatment initially was the risk of unintended exposure. Men were cautioned to cover the parts of their bodies where testosterone gel was applied, and to keep clothing that had come in contact with treated skin away from others because women and children who had become exposed to the gel secondhand were developing concerning side effects such as body and facial hair and early puberty.
When the November 2013 JAMA published results from a study on testosterone therapy, people took notice. Data suggested that men who underwent an artery-clearing procedure and then took prescription testosterone medication were 30 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack, stroke or die from any cause than men in similar health who did not use the treatment.
The study came under question from the Androgen Study Group, a newly formed group of physicians, many of whom have received payments from drug companies that make testosterone products. Now doctors – and many of their patients – are calling for more studies to identify the safety risks with testosterone treatments.
In the meantime, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced it was launching an investigation into the safety of testosterone supplements. Several people who claim they were injured by the products have also filed personal injury lawsuits against makers of the drugs.
Source: LA Times