Men who receive testosterone injections were more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event, be hospitalized or die compared to men treated with testosterone gels, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
Testosterone replacement treatments are intended to boost levels of the hormone in men with hypogonadism, a condition in which the body does not produce enough testosterone due to disease or defect.
In recent years, makers of testosterone products have heavily marketed the drugs to men, asking if they suffered symptoms of so-called “Low T” – such as low libido, fatigue, weight gain and muscle loss. The campaigns resulted in millions of prescriptions for testosterone treatments, including popular brands AndroGel, Testim and Axiron. In many cases, researchers found that doctors did not even test patients to determine if they had low testosterone.
The issue became a real concern when studies revealed that testosterone therapy could increase a man’s risk of heart attack, stroke and death. The latest study, conducted by researchers in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, set out to determine if cardiovascular risks were greater with various forms of testosterone treatments, including injections, patches and gels.
“Our analysis suggests that testosterone injections may increase the short-term risk of [CV] events, stroke, death and hospitalization compared with gels,” the researchers wrote.
“The risks associated with patches and gels appeared to be similar and lower than the risk with injections. With potential long-term effects of testosterone on lipid levels, further exploration of [CV] risk associated with longer-term treatment is warranted. With continuing concern about the safety and effectiveness of testosterone treatment in men with primary and age-related hypogonadism and the trend of treatment in men with normal testosterone levels or without recent baseline testing, it is important to understand the potential hazards of testosterone treatment.”