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Low Levels of Testosterone may Increase the Risk of Death in Older Men

Men with low testosterone were more likely to have elevated markers of inflammation, called inflammatory cytokines, which contribute to many diseases. Another characteristic that distinguished the men with low testosterone was a larger waist girth along with a cluster of cardiovascular and diabetes risk factors related to this type of fat accumulation. Men with low testosterone are three times more likely to have the metabolic syndrome than men with higher testosterone levels; metabolic syndrome is the name for the presence of three or more of these risk factors:

waist measurement more than 40 inches in men (more than 35 inches in women),
low HDL (good) cholesterol,
high triglycerides (levels of fat in the blood),
high blood pressure
high blood glucose (blood sugar)

While the study lends support to the belief that supplemental hormone therapy may help older men with low testosterone levels, those who practice weight control and increase their physical activity may also live longer.

"The study did show there may be an association between low testosterone levels and higher mortality. It did not show that higher levels of testosterone are associated with decreased mortality," explained Laughlin. Researchers agree only randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials can determine whether testosterone supplements can safely promote longer life. Such a trial is in the planning stages at UCSD.

Barrett-Connor cautioned, "We are very excited about these findings, which have important implications, but we are not ready to say that men should go out and get testosterone to prolong their lives. Were not ready to take this to the prescribing pharmacist."

"Conventional wisdom is that women live longer because estrogen is good and testosterone is bad," said Barrett-Connor. "We dont know. Maybe the decline in testosterone is healthy and comes with older age. Maybe the decline is ba
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