- Low testosterone levels are not beneficial for the man's health
By: Stefan Anitei, Science Editor
Low testosterone levels in men over 40 may increase the risk of death over a four-year period compared to normal levels of the hormone.
Middle-aged men do not generally experience a drop in sex hormones production like women's menopause. But after the age of 30, testosterone
levels gradually decline with approximately 1.5 % per year. Less testosterone means decreased muscle mass and strength, lower bone density, insulin resistance, decreased sex drive, less energy, irritability and feelings of depression.
Some scientists have linked the decline in testosterone levels to aging, but few studies were made to support the issue. Scientists at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and University of Washington, Seattle, studied the link between testosterone amounts and death in a sample of 858 males over 40 years.
They were testosterone checked at least twice between 1994 and 2002, in a period from 4,3 to 8 years. 19 % (166) of the men had a low testosterone level; 28 % (240) had fluctuating testosterone level; and 53 % (452) had normal testosterone levels. 20.1 % of the men with normal testosterone levels died during the study, compared with 24.6 % of men with fluctuating levels and 34.9 % of those with low levels. This data translates to an 88 % increase in death risk in those with low testosterone compared with those with normal levels.
Eliminating variables that bias the death toll and decrease the testosterone level, like age, illnesses and body mass index, scientists still remained with an increase of 68 %. They also excluded persons who died within one year after starting the study. "The persistence of elevated mortality risk after excluding early deaths suggests that the association between low testosterone and mortality is not simply due to acute illness," they write.
"Large prospective studies are needed to clarify the association between low testosterone levels and mortality"