Testosterone Therapy May Often Be Prescribed Without Real Need: Study

The findings of a new study suggest that many men in the United States are receiving inappropriate prescriptions for testosterone replacement therapy, such as AndroGel, AndroDerm or other products, which could be placing them at risk of cardiovascular problems from testosterone side effects.  

In a study released this month by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, researchers found that testing for testosterone levels in both the U.K. and the U.S. has increased among both men with low testosterone levels and normal levels. They also found that men with normal testosterone levels were increasingly taking the supplements even after testing found there was no problem.

Testosterone therapy has increased dramatically over the past decade, amid substantial direct-to-consumer marketing by the makers of AndroGel and other treatments. These advertisements encourages men to seek treatment for “Low T” to help improve strength, increase libido and maintain weight. The drugs are designed for men who have trouble producing the crucial male sexual hormone on their own, which involves a condition known as hypogonadism. However, many men taking testosterone replacement medications have not actually been diagnosed with hypogonadism.

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Researchers in this new study reviewed data involving 1,114,329 men in the United States and 66,140 men in the United Kingdom who had their testosterone levels tested from 2000 to 2011. The study found that 410,019 men in the U.S. and 6,858 men in the U.K. began taking testosterone treatments during the same period. However, while the number of men beginning testosterone therapy has quadrupled since 2000 in the U.S., the number has only increased by one-third in the U.K.

“Increased testing in the UK has identified more men with low levels, yet US testing has increased among men with normal levels,” the researchers found. “Men in the US tend to initiate at normal levels more often than in the UK, and many men initiate testosterone without recent testing.”

Testosterone Therapy Heart Risks

The findings come in the wake of a study published last year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which found that testosterone therapy side effects may increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes and even death among men with heart disease.

Researchers from the Veterans Affairs Eastern Colorado Health Care System reviewed data involving 8,700 veterans who underwent a coronary angiography and had low testosterone levels. Among the 1,223 men who were given testosterone therapy, including gels, patches or injections, the rate of death, heart attacks and strokes was 29% higher than the men who did not receive testosterone supplements.

Amid these findings, a number of men are now considering potential testosterone therapy lawsuits as a result of the manufacturers’ failure to adequately research the medications or warn about the potential cardiovascular risks.


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