A group of older men treated with AbbVie’s AndroGel testosterone replacement therapy for a year had a 20 percent greater buildup of non-calcified plaque in their arteries than men who received a placebo gel, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The men – 138 in total – had a mean age of 71 as well as having cardiovascular risk factors. Half had severe atherosclerosis, a buildup of fats, cholesterol, and other substances in and on the artery walls, which can cause blockages that can lead to conditions such as coronary artery disease, chronic kidney disease, or peripheral arterial disease, depending on the location of the blockage.
The study’s findings “should at least strike some caution in people, to not be too laissez- faire” about testosterone replacement therapy in similar men, Dr Matthew J. Budoff (Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center) told heartwire from Medscape.
Testosterone treatment is used to increase levels of the male hormone in men who have hypogonadism, a condition caused by low levels of testosterone due to disease or injury. It is not intended for men with age-related hypogonadism, because testosterone levels naturally drop as a man ages.
The study, however, tested testosterone treatments in older men to give them levels similar to that of 30-year-old men. The results proved the practice is risky. “Maybe once you’re 70, you don’t have to be 40 again,” Budoff suggested.
Manufacturers of testosterone treatments have heavily marketed testosterone replacement therapy to men through direct-to-consumer advertising, dubbing the condition “Low T” and promising improvements in sex drive and increases in muscle mass despite studies showing that testosterone treatments could cause blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
Manufacturers of testosterone treatments are facing numerous lawsuits from men who suffered testosterone side effects alleging the companies did not adequately warn consumers of the cardiovascular risks.