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Testosterone Replacement is Emptying Consumers’ Wallets and Making them Sicker

Filed February 3rd, 2014 Laurie

Men trying to maintain their energy and sexual drive may only be inching closer to the grave, according to a new USA Today article. A new study finds that testosterone therapy doubles the risk of heart attack in men age 65 and older, and nearly triples it in younger men with a history of heart problems.

The 56,000 men involved in the study simply wanted to recapture some their energy and keep up with their partners in bed, but wound up with the cardiac health of a one- to two-pack-a-day smoker, or someone with sky-high cholesterol, according to USAToday.com.

The study, authored by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles and others, was published Wednesday in PLOS One.

Men are legitimately prescribed testosterone therapy to treat hypogonadism, which can result in abnormally low testosterone levels. In recent years, however, testosterone has been marketed directly to consumers by drug companies who suggest in their marketing that men may be suffering from a condition called “low T.” Low T is said to cause energy loss, mood changes, and reduced sex drive, USAToday.com wrote.

According to a New York Times article published in October, men who buy into the ads are unnecessarily spending money and unknowingly giving themselves serious health problems by trying to treat a condition that doesn’t even exist.
Many testosterone replacement ads frighten men into thinking the normal aging process is abnormal for them, and the ads are clearly designed to convince men that products like AndroGel will help them recapture their youth. Sales of testosterone gel generated more than $2 billion in sales last year, but many doctors aren’t convinced low T is a real condition, according to NYTimes.com.

“When I ask patients why they’re on it, the instant response, is, ‘I have low T.’ I ask, ‘Why would you even get tested for that?’ There isn’t really a normal,” Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist and chief academic officer at Scripps Health in San Diego, told NYTimes.com last year.

The number of men taking the hormone tripled from 2001 to 2011, but only about half of men taking testosterone had been diagnosed with hypogonadism, and 25 percent hadn’t even had their testosterone levels tests, USAToday.com reported.

Cardiologist Steve Nissen told USAToday.com the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should require companies that manufacture testosterone replacement products to conduct stringent clinical trials examining the medication’s cardiac risks.

The chair of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic also noted that hormone replacement therapy was once a standard method for preventing heart disease in aging women, but it was later found to cause heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer, according to USAToday.com.

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