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Low Testosterone Linked With Early Death

A new study has indicated that reduced levels of testosterone, which is the male sex hormone linked with virility and energy// , might also indicate whether a man would die early.

US scientists had studied the relationship between testosterone levels and death in 858 military veterans aged over 40. Reporting their findings in the Archives of Internal Medicine, they explained that men with low hormone levels had an 88% increased risk of death as compared to men with normal levels. Scientists at the University of Washington and Veteran's Association (VA) Puget Health Care System, both based in Seattle, had studied male veterans who had had measured their testosterone levels at least twice between 1994 and 1999, and tracked their health records were then tracked until 2002. The researchers found that 53% of the men had normal testosterone levels, while 28% had fluctuating levels where the average was classified as normal, and 19% had low levels. The researchers also explained that during the study they also found 20.1% of men with normal levels had died, as compared to 24.6% of men with vague levels and 34.9% of men with low levels.

The researchers after studying the figures, taking into account factors such as age, body mass index and other illnesses, found that men with low testosterone levels were 88% more likely to die than those with normal levels. They said that they then separate the men who had died within one year of taking the second testosterone sample from their calculations, explaining that critical illnesses could cause the levels of testosterone to decrease dramatically. And even after that they found that there was a 68% increased risk of death in men with low levels.

Molly Shores, the author of the study, had explained in her writings with colleagues that, “The persistence of elevated mortality risk after excluding early deaths suggests that the association between low testosterone and mortal ity is not simply due to acute illness. Large prospective studies are needed to clarify the association between low testosterone levels and mortality.” The researchers also pointed that their study might not be definitely representative, as it had focused on military veterans, who probably had a higher risk of death than the normal population.

Pierre Bouloux, professor of endocrinology from the Royal Free Hospital in London, said that while testosterone and mortality had been linked, the study contained several weaknesses and could not be extrapolated to the general population. He said, “This is a VA, Veteran's Administration study. The poorest people in the US go to the VA, who comes from a very low socio-economic status - which is known to have an impact on mortality. This makes it very difficult to know if you can extrapolate these results to the generality of the population.”

He further added, “It also seems very odd to me that the mortality amongst all of the men is so high but the problem is that the study does not even tell us what the causes of the deaths are. The fact that it is also retrospective study rather than prospective is also not helpful. As the authors themselves state, to pursue any association, you really need a prospective study."

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