Injectable testosterone treatments are more dangerous than testosterone gels or patches, according to a new epidemiologic study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine.
The study involved three large, diverse databases involving more than a half million men in the United States and Great Britain, all of whom had just been prescribed testosterone therapy after not having had any treatments of the hormone in the previous six months. The men received either injectable testosterone treatments, testosterone gels, or testosterone patches.
Researchers found that the men who had received injections of testosterone had a higher short-term risk of cardiovascular events compared to men who had used gels or patches. “There’s a spike of serum testosterone that happens after an injection, so the injections may carry a slightly higher cardiovascular risk,” lead author Dr. J. Bradley Layton, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Medscape Medical News.
The study comes just months after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that testosterone supplements are intended only for men with hypogonadism, a condition in which men do not produce enough testosterone due to injury or disease. Skyrocketing sales of testosterone treatments following aggressive marketing campaigns waged by pharmaceutical companies revealed that many men were being prescribed the hormone without actually being tested for hypogonadism, leading many to suspect that a large number of men were receiving the treatment without actually needing it.
The FDA also warned that studies had linked testosterone therapy to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, dangerous blood clots and death.
This is the first study that compared heart risks among the three different types of testosterone therapies. Researchers say the findings emphasize the need to prescribe testosterone treatments only when warranted and to be aware that the injectable treatments could be more dangerous than the other delivery systems currently on the market.