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Study Dispels Myth of Testosterone as Fountain of Youth Hormone

Tim Boyer's picture

Testosterone has long been touted as a fountain of youth hormone that increases vigor and leads to a longer and healthier life for the aging individual. However, according to a recent study, researchers believe that the positive effects of testosterone on an aging body are beneficial in protecting only against cardiovascular disease, and not from other age-related illnesses.

In a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers from The University of Western Australia's Western Australian Center for Health and Ageing (WACHA) wanted to determine whether a link existed between testosterone levels and mortality. The Western Australian Center for Health & Ageing (WACHA) is a university-based research center dedicated to researching issues associated with ageing in order to extend healthy life.

From earlier studies the researchers knew that men with low levels of testosterone were at an increased risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. However, what was not known was whether the proposed protective effects of testosterone applied toward other age-related diseases as well.

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The study consisted of 3,637 men aged 70–88 years old who were not on hormonal therapy or had prostate cancer. At the beginning of the study their testosterone levels were measured as well as predictors of mortality for this age group. A follow-up 5 years later showed that there were approximately 600 deaths with 1/3 due to cardiovascular disease, 1/3 due to cancer, and the final third due to respiratory disease and other causes.

Analyzing the data by comparing the participants testosterone levels as predictors of mortality to the actual number of participants who died and of what causes, led the researchers to conclude that although there is an established link between testosterone levels and death from cardiovascular disease, there is no evidence that testosterone is linked with other age-related diseases that result in death.
The lead author of the study, researcher Zoë Hyde of the Western Australia Center for Health and Ageing said that their study indicates that low testosterone levels are not linked to death from other diseases.

"Previous studies suggested that men with low testosterone levels are likely to die earlier, and some researchers have argued that testosterone therapy might improve longevity… However, our results suggest that low testosterone is a risk factor only for cardiovascular disease," says Ms. Hyde.

She cautions, that too much should not be read into the link between testosterone as a preventive therapy for heart disease in men. "Although our study suggests that preventing testosterone deficiency might have some health benefits, we need to first conduct clinical trials of testosterone therapy to see if these findings are real, and to also properly evaluate the risks of therapy," she said. She adds that sex hormones play an important role in maintaining health and quality of life, particularly as their concentrations changed over time, and that it would be premature to recommend testosterone therapy to prevent cardiovascular disease.

Source: Low Free Testosterone Predicts Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease But Not Other Causes: The Health in Men Study The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism October 19, 2011 jc.2011-1617