Testosterone doesn't boost functioning in older men

Recommended by Dr. Michael White, Updated on May 4th, 2015
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By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Older men who use testosterone gel may see small improvements in their muscle-to-fat ratio but are unlikely to glean any benefits in flexibility, endurance and general ability to get around, new research suggests.

Men participating in the study had low to normal testosterone levels, were at least 60 years old and were functioning at a relatively high level to begin with. It's still unclear how long-term use of testosterone might affect frailer and more disease-prone elderly men, researchers noted.

"There may be specific populations of men for whom testosterone supplementation or replacement may be beneficial," said lead author Dr. Kerry Hildreth, from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora.

"But it's really not clear that in otherwise healthy, functional men in that low-normal physiologic range that using testosterone either alone or in combination with exercise added much."

The new findings, she said, suggest that testosterone "is widely used in people where it really may not be appropriate or may not provide the benefits that people think it's going to."

Abbott donated the testosterone gel used in the study, Androgel. The gel is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for men who make too little testosterone on their own, a condition called hypogonadism.

Because testosterone levels decline naturally as men age, some researchers have wondered if treating older, healthy men with the hormone could help slow changes in body composition and loss of strength.

To try to answer that question, Hildreth and her colleagues randomly assigned 167 older men to use testosterone or a hormone-free placebo gel each day and to do strength-training three times a week or not.

Use of testosterone was tied to a two-pound decrease in fat mass and a two-pound increase in muscle mass, the study team reported in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Original post:
Testosterone doesn't boost functioning in older men

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