Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 19th 2016 Contents As men age, they lose testosterone---which some
say affects their sense of well-being and sexual func-
But for healthy older men, using supplemental
testosterone as a remedy has been controversial. Past
studies of the supplement s use have been relatively
small, and the evidence about benefits and risks has
Now a well-designed study published online yes-
terday, in the New England Journal of Medicine, con-
firms certain benefits in sexual function and mood
for some men 65 and over, at least in the first year.
Though the gains were modest, and some tended to
wane in the latter months of treatment, researchers
say the findings are encouraging, and merit further
Dave Bostick, a retired vocational counselor in Pitts-
burgh, took part in the study. Bostick loves his wife,
but when he got to his 60s, he says, he d noticed
some changes in himself---a decline in his sexual drive,
and a drop in his enthusiasm for trying new things
His lack of ambition was so noticeable, he tells
Shots, that he decided it was time to retire. But he
still wasn t really happy. And one day, while taking
a course at the University of Pittsburgh, he was drawn
to a posted notice about a new study.
"I looked at the announcement," he says. "I said,
Yes, I m 65, and yes, I feel low-energy/low-libido. "
The University of Pittsburgh was one of 12 sites
nationwide that collaborated to look at the possible
benefits of testosterone in older men whose levels of
the hormone were below 275 ng per deciliter of blood---
that s just below the wide range that many doctors
consider "normal" for healthy, younger men.
The scientists screened more than 51,000 men who
were 65 or older for their study, and from that group
found 790 with low testosterone, as measured by a
blood test. The researchers say the study wasn t
designed to get at whether the men had lost the hor-
mone more rapidly than others, or whether they pro-
duced less testosterone to begin with.
About half the participants were given testosterone
gel, and the other half a placebo gel. Until the first
year of the study was over, neither the participants
nor the researchers knew which men were getting
"The testosterone concentrations in the men in
this trial (who got the active treatment) were increased,
on average, to just the middle of the normal range
for young men," says endocrinologist Dr Peter Snyder,
of the University of Pennsylvania, who led the study.
After a year, Snyder says, though the benefits were
only moderate, it was clear that mood and physical
activity had improved among the group that had been
getting a boost of testosterone. And the biggest
improvement, he says, was in sexual function.
"Testosterone improved sexual activity, sexual desire
and improved erectile function," Snyder says.
Dave Bostick, it turned out, was in the group
assigned testosterone. He did develop a more robust
libido, he says. But even more important, he adds,
he felt happier. He had more energy, and his enthu-
siasm for trying new things---new classes, new inter-
ests---was restored. His part of the study ended two
years ago, but Bostick is still taking testosterone.
Past research has suggested that increasing testos-
terone levels might also increase the risk for of heart
attack and stroke, or lead to prostate issues. But Snyder
says, so far, his team of scientists has found no increase
in adverse events among those taking the hormone.
Still, that doesn t mean testosterone supplements
are safe to take long-term, he says. To get those
answers, he says, far more research is needed.
Even so, endocrinologist Dr Eric Orwoll, with the
Oregon Health And Science University, says the findings
offer a bit more guidance for doctors and some patients.
Researchers still don t know exactly which men
"The average participant was 72 years of age,"
Orwoll notes in an editorial that accompanied the
journal study. "Almost 90 per cent of participants
were white, most were obese, most had hypertension,
more than one third had diabetes, and almost 20 per
cent had sleep apnea."
Most testosterone prescriptions these days are writ-
ten for middle-aged men, Orwoll adds---not the demo-
graphic included in Snyder s study.
"We should not assume that the benefits, lack of
benefits, or adverse-event profile observed in these
studies would be similar in younger men, men with
higher testosterone levels, or those with different
demographic or clinical characteristics," Orwoll writes.
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Friday, February 19, 2016
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Extra testosterone may help some older men
Past studies on
the use of
small, and the
risks has been
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