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Is ‘Low T’ a Disease? Is Prescription Testosterone the Cure?

Testosterone, a naturally occurring hormone, appears to decline in men as a part of the aging process. Other factors have been shown to contribute to the decline as well: belly fat, other prescriptive drugs, as well as chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, according to the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, over the last few decades men’s average testosterone appears to be dropping about 1 percent per year. But is falling testosterone levels a disease that requires a prescription to fix?

Reduction in testosterone levels is not merely an interesting scientific fact. A lack, or deficiency, in testosterone can lead to a decline or outright loss of sex drive and fertility, bones that are more brittle, and symptoms similar to those of menopausal women. Clinical testosterone deficiency, or hypogonadism, is a legitimate medical diagnosis that is based on a measurement of the levels of testosterone in the blood. Prescriptive testosterone therapy can legitimately help men with this condition.

However, “talk to your doctor about ‘low T’” has become the new tag line for advertising in all media forms. Televised sporting events of every kind are interrupted with virile older men applying testosterone under their arms and being looked at adoringly by their spouses or significant others. Pharmaceutical companies have latched onto the declining levels of testosterone in aging American males and is now attempting to convince one and all that it is pathological, i.e., a disease that needs fixing by prescription medication.

Testosterone received FDA approval in 1953 for treatment of men with hypogonadism, and had been in clinical use before that since as early as 1937. It may now be administered in at least five different forms, including gels, patches and injections. However, from 2001 to 2011, use of testosterone by men over 40 nearly quadrupled, with doctors prescribing it to men with normal levels who merely wished to increase their sex drive and just generally feel better than they normally feel.

Unfortunately, testosterone is not without risks. A study published just last week revealed that in men over 65, and younger men with a history of cardiovascular disease, the risk of heart attacks DOUBLED within three months of beginning testosterone therapy. Physicians and scientists agree that in men with true clinical testosterone deficiency, the benefits outweigh the risks, but for normal men who just want a little “pep in the step”, the risks far outweigh the benefit.

If you are considering testosterone therapy for “low T”, think twice about the decision and carefully consult your doctor. Ask him what your testosterone levels are and how they compare to normal values. More importantly, consider alternatives to testosterone therapy to “fix” the problem. Losing weight has been shown to naturally increase testosterone levels. Alcohol lowers testosterone levels, so cut it out or limit intake. Some vegetables, broccoli and collard greens are two, can also help by decreasing the effects of naturally occurring estrogen. In short, many healthy lifestyle changes can be exactly the fix you’re looking for, with none of the drastic risk associated with testosterone therapy.

However, if you or a loved one have been on testosterone therapy and have suffered a heart attack or other cardiovascular event, we can help. Our team has been investigating these cases and is leading the fight against big pharmaceutical companies who put profits ahead of safety. 

Call us toll-free at 1-855-WBM-ATTY (1-855-926-2889).

Whitfield Bryson & Mason can help.