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How men can keep testosterone levels normal and waists slim

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Does testosterone normally decline with aging?

Keeping testosterone levels normal is possible with aging, despite the common notion that the sex hormone declines in men as they get older. Men who make healthy lifestyle choices can keep their sex drive and hormone levels intact with the added benefit of a trimmer waistline, both found in new studies

Testosterone decline not a normal part of aging

One new study, presented at The Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston, June 23, 2012 looked at testosterone levels among 1500 men who had two blood level measurements of the hormone, five years apart; 1382 were included in the analysis. Excluded were men taking medications, those who had abnormal lab values and men with medical conditions that affect hormone levels.

The study found testosterone hormone levels only decrease slightly over time: Less than 1% each year, except among men who became obese, depressed or had stopped smoking.

Study co-author Gary Wittert, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia said in a press release, “Testosterone changes are largely explained by smoking behavior and changes in health status, particularly obesity and depression.”

He adds, “While stopping smoking may be a cause of a slight decrease in testosterone, the benefit of quitting smoking is huge.”

The findings, Wittert says, are important for clinicians. Lower testosterone levels are not a natural part of aging, but instead the result of overall health behaviors and status.

He also points out that regular sexual activity increases testosterone levels. The study also found that married men have higher levels of the hormone, probably because they’re happier and healthier than unmarried men.

Boosting testosterone levels halts a ‘vicious circle’

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In another finding presented at the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting, researchers found testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) for given to men deficient in the hormone had amazing benefits for weight loss.

The weight loss benefit came as a surprise to the researchers. TRT resulted in an average loss of 36 pounds for men who participated in the study.

Lead author, Farid Saad, PhD, of Berlin-headquartered Bayer Pharma writes in the study abstract, "Obesity is associated with reduced testosterone, and low testosterone induces weight gain."

The study, which took place in Germany, is the first to show weight loss benefits from treating low testosterone levels. Men were followed for at least two-years and hormone replacement was accomplished using a long-acting form of testosterone that isn’t available yet in the U.S.

According to Saad, "Obesity is associated with reduced testosterone, and low testosterone induces weight gain.”

In the study, 255 men’s testosterone levels were restored to normal. After one year, weight loss was 4% and 13% after five years of treatment. The men also lost an average of 3.5 inches in waist circumference.

A blood test can tell men if they're hormone levels are normal - the lower normal testosterone limit is 300 nanograms per deciliter (ng/dL) and the upper limits are 1,000 to 1,200 ng/dL. A lower-than-normal score on a blood test should be explored by your doctor to find out if there are any health problems that might include infection, type 2 diabetes, liver or kidney disease and testicular cancer or injury.

Testosterone is important for keeping waist size and weight normal and also for maintaining for bone density, muscle strength and libido. Replacing the male sex hormone helped men lose weight and waist size in the study. According to a second study, lower testosterone levels are not a normal part of getting older as previously believed. Men who follow healthy lifestyle behaviors could prevent obesity and keep testosterone levels intact with aging.

The Endocrine Society
June 23, 2012

Updated August 14, 2014