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The findings of a new study raise questions about recent claims made by the manufacturers of testosterone supplements, with researchers indicating that marketing claims that suggest the products increase strength, stamina and virility appear to be overstated.
Researchers with the Keck School of Medicine looked at dozens of testosterone dietary supplements and found that few actually contained ingredients that would boost testosterone production and nearly half had ingredients that could cause adverse health effects. The researchers also found that health benefits claimed by the manufacturers rarely materialized.
The findings were presented on May 4 at the annual meeting of the American Urological Association in Chicago, Illinois. The study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal and should be considered preliminary.
Researchers looked at 50 dietary supplements billed as “testosterone boosters” and analyzed their component parts and ingredients.
According to the findings, only 12% contained ingredients that have been shown to boost testosterone levels in some way in previous studies. However, the researchers found that about 90% claimed to treat testosterone deficiency, about half claimed to improve sexual libido and make men stronger. About 60% claimed to increase body mass and 30% claimed to increase energy, while about the same amount claimed to help burn fat.
The researchers noted that while some ingredients used in some of the supplements, including fenugreek and shilajit, have been shown to help increase testosterone production, most of the ingredients regularly used by the supplements did not. In addition, many contained levels of vitamins and minerals which significantly exceeded daily recommended levels.
The study only looked at dietary supplements, which are not regulated by the FDA unless they are deemed a public health concern. It did not look at prescription testosterone drugs.
The findings comes following years of concerns that drugs have been over-marketed to men without any real medical need for the treatments, after findings that side effects of the low testosterone drugs may increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and sudden death for men.
While medications like Androgel, Testim and others were originally intended as a “niche” treatment for men suffering from confirmed testosterone deficiency, amid aggressive marketing over the last decades, the drugs grew to generate billions in annual sales.
In recent years, more than 6,000 Androgel lawsuits and other claims pending against makers of testosterone replacement therapy, alleging that users and the medical community were not adequately warned about the potential health risks, including an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, blood clots and other life-threatening health problems.
Many of those cases are expected to be resolved through testosterone settlements reached in agreements last summer.