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Sex Steroids Linked to Greater Strength with Aging

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Men with higher testosterone levels lose less muscle with aging

Aging is linked to loss of muscle mass, but not for men with higher levels of the sex steroid testosterone, finds a new investigation.

Researchers say testosterone also helps men maintain upper and lower extremity strength with aging.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), included data from 1,183 men aged 65 years or older.

They compared exercise, strength and lean muscle mass in men with higher and lower levels of testosterone.

The men were compared for grip strength, lower extremity power, walking speed and the ability to rise from a chair without the use of arms.

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According to Erin LeBlanc, MD, of Kaiser Permanente Northwest in Portland, Oregon and lead author of the study,

“Men who had higher testosterone levels before they lost weight also lost less leg function and could stand up more easily from a chair than men who had lower testosterone levels before they lost weight."

LeBlanc said the study supports a growing body of evidence that men with higher endogenous levels of testosterone lose less muscle mass with aging.

"Our study finds that men, aged 65 years and older, with higher testosterone levels lost less muscle mass, especially in their arms and legs, than men this age who had lower testosterone levels," said Le Blanc

Higher natural testosterone levels after age 65 was also associated with increased lower body strength, compared to older men whose levels of the sex steroid were lower.

JCEM: doi: 10.1210/jc.2011-0312
"Higher Testosterone Levels Are Associated with Less Loss of Lean Body Mass in Older Men"
October 5, 2011
Erin S. LeBlanc et al.