A new joint study by the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, the National Institutes of Health, and Consolidated Research Inc., has shown there is a twofold increase in the risk of a heart attack shortly after beginning testosterone therapy among men under 65 who have a history of heart disease. You may have seen one of the many advertisements geared toward men asking if they suffer from "low T" — low testosterone levels that, according to the ads, can result in lost sex drive, diminished energy, and moodiness. The answer, they suggest, may be as simple as applying testosterone through a gel or patch.
So successful has the marketing for this testosterone therapy been that, according to Drugs.com, an independent medicine website, sales of the testosterone gel Androgel in 2013 exceeded sales of Viagra.
Now, a new joint study by UCLA, the National Institutes of Health, and Consolidated Research Inc., has shown there is a twofold increase in the risk of a heart attack shortly after beginning testosterone therapy among men under 65 who have a history of heart disease. Further, the study confirmed earlier studies that found a twofold increase in heart attack risk shortly after treatment began in men older than 65. The study, the largest to date examining heart disease in men using testosterone supplements, appears in the January 29 online edition of PLOS ONE.
The research was prompted by three small, earlier studies that raised concerns about possible adverse cardiovascular outcomes associated with testosterone therapy. These included a randomized clinical trial of men older than 65, which was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and was stopped in 2010 due to a variety of cardiovascular events. "We decided to investigate cardiovascular risks of this therapy in a large health care database since these previous studies were modest in size and only focused on men 65 and older," said the study's senior author, Dr. Sander Greenland, a professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a professor of statistics in the UCLA College of Letters and Science. "Our study allowed us to examine cardiovascular risk in men under the age of 65 and to replicate the findings in men over 65."
The research has received media attention from New York Times, AARP, CBS's "Evening News," Time magazine, Live Science, NPR, Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, New York's WXXA-Channel 7 and Asian News International, among others.
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