Will Fixing ‘Low T’ Also Break Your Heart?
Dr. Dave Hnida
February 1, 2014 (CBSDenver.com Blogger) —Seems like every time I turn around, I hear ads telling me I may be suffering “low T.” That’s commercial code for low levels of the male hormone testosterone.
Levels of testosterone naturally drop as us guys get older, but do we really need to replace what we’re not making anymore?
If you think so, you may want to think again.
The FDA says it is taking a new look at testosterone supplementation after a series of recent reports linking testosterone supplements to a higher risk of heart attack. One study suggested went as far as to say adding some “T” to your life may even double the risk of an attack.
The hormone is approved for certain medical conditions, but in some cases is being marketed as a quick fix for things like low energy, low sex drive, low mood, or lower muscle mass (which is why you’re now asking your wife to open that jar for you.)
The question is: does extra testosterone really help these problems? Bluntly, the jury is still out.
And now comes a bigger question as to whether the hormone might hurt more than help when it comes to your heart.
(Plus that doesn’t even address the issue of whether extra “T” may increase a guy’s risk of prostate or other cancers — there’s still research to be done on that).
In the meantime, you’ll be bombarded with the message — guys — get a blood test to measure your level of testosterone! Then if low, here’s a prescription for a patch, ointment, or injection to rev up the old engine.
But wait! Maybe you don’t even need to see your doctor. There is the OTC stuff (yes, you can find testosterone without a prescription or a blood test to check levels). Which, in my opinion, is a real no-brainer. As in, that’s a decision that may reflect having no brain.
Why would you self treat yourself with a OTC hormone or hormone derivative that may not be pure, or hasn’t been proven safe and effective? Not the swiftest of moves. If you think you need some extra “T”, see your doctor.
Then, when you do, remember two important things: first, we still don’t know exactly the long-term — or short-term risks of testosterone therapy. And two — if you think any product is going to make you feel like you’re 25 again, well, you better hurry up. I know a bunch of 30 year olds would line up en masse for more energy, sex drive, and muscle mass.
Dr. Dave Hnida is CBS4 Denver's Medical Editor.
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