Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Low Testosterone Levels, Higher Death Rates

Low Testosterone Levels, Higher Death Rates

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Men in their 40s or older who have low hormone levels have a higher risk of death than those with normal hormone levels.

Men experience a gradual decrease in testosterone levels -- about 1.5 percent each year -- after age 30, not like the drastic hormonal change women undergo during menopause.

A recent study reveals low testosterone levels -- characterized by traits such as reduced energy and sex drive, declining muscle mass and bone density, insulin resistance and irritability -- in men older than 40 could equate to a higher risk of death in a four year time frame, compared to men with normal testosterone levels.

Molly M. Shores, M.D., and associates from the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and University of Washington, Seattle, examined 858 veterans older than 40 by checking their testosterone levels and then following the men for an average 4.3 years afterwards.

Men with low testosterone levels comprised about 19 percent of the study group and were generally older and had a higher body mass index among other qualities. Roughly 28 percent of the group had equivocal testosterone levels -- meaning they had an equal number of tests measuring low or normal levels. This group also had a higher body mass index than the men with normal levels. Men with normal testosterone levels made up 53 percent of the study group.

The men in the low testosterone group were most likely to die during the four-year study period -- 34.9 percent of the group. This was significantly larger than the death of approximately 20 percent of the normal testosterone group and almost 25 percent of the equivocal testosterone group.

Researchers attempted to factor out men whose testosterone levels were low because of surgery, trauma, or critical illness. The data still revealed that low testosterone men were 68 percent more likely to die than men with normal testosterone.

SOURCE: Archives of Internal Medicine, 2006;166:1660-1665

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