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Eric T. Chaffin
Eric T. Chaffin
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Too Much Testosterone Linked to Enlarged Prostate as Well as CVD

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For the past decade or so, manufacturers of testosterone replacement products have been telling men that a little more testosterone won’t hurt them. Advertising campaigns have created the impression that typical symptoms of aging, including fatigue, muscle loss, and reduced libido, are all signs of decreased testosterone levels. Boosting those levels with replacement drugs was portrayed as helping men feel more energetic, vibrant, and more like their younger selves.

Recent studies, however, have cautioned that testosterone replacement therapy may come with serious risks, including the higher potential for heart attack and stroke. The FDA launched an investigation into the safety of the drugs at the start of 2014, and in March 2015, announced they were requiring manufacturers to update warning information on product labels to reflect the potential cardiovascular risks.

Now, there may be another reason to be concerned about taking extra testosterone. A recent study out of the University of California suggests that additional testosterone could potentially increase risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)—prostate enlargement.

Study Links Low Testosterone with Reduced Risk of BPH

For the study, researchers examined an isolated indigenous population in Bolivia. They found that within a group of about 350 males, there were practically no cases of BPH. On the whole, the men had significantly smaller prostates than American men. Researchers also found that these men had low levels of testosterone for most of their lives—about 30 percent lower than men in the U.S. Those who had higher levels than the others in their tribe typically had larger prostates.

We have other evidence that testosterone is likely involved in BPH, as eunuchs and men without testes also have low rates of the disorder. Reducing levels of androgens has shown to be an effective way to treat BPH.  Population studies have linked higher testosterone exposure to higher rates of prostate cancer.

All this information, when taken together, leads researchers to caution men about testosterone replacement drugs. “Basically, these guys taking testosterone replacement therapies are entering themselves into an uncontrolled experiment,” said lead author Benjamin Trumble.

Too Much Testosterone Creates Health Risks

The bottom line, according to researchers in this area, is that yes, testosterone therapy may help you to feel younger, but at what cost? Levels typically decrease with age, and there is concern that tampering with that natural process may be putting unwanted stress on the body.

Two studies in 2014, for instance, seemed to indicate that excess testosterone could have negative ramifications. In the first, researchers found that men over the age of 65, and younger men with pre-existing heart disease, who started a testosterone replacement therapy prescription, had a two-to-three fold increased risk of heart attack in the first 90 days following their first prescription.

In the second, researchers actually stopped their study prematurely because the men undergoing testosterone therapy had a 30 percent increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and death.

Plaintiffs who have taken these drugs and then suffered serious side effects may be eligible to file a testosterone lawsuit. Currently, over 1,400 such cases are pending in the consolidated litigation in the Northern District of Illinois.