Testing testosterone: Trial finds no link to hardening of the arteries

August 11, 2015, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Ball-and-stick model of the testosterone molecule, C19H28O2, as found in the crystal structure of testosterone monohydrate. Credit: Ben Mills/Wikipedia

Testosterone sales have grown rapidly over the last decade, but few studies have examined the long-term effects of taking testosterone on cardiovascular health and other important outcomes. This week, investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) report the results of the Testosterone's Effects on Atherosclerosis Progression in Aging Men (TEAAM) trial in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The three-year study finds that testosterone administration had no effect on the progression of hardening of the arteries in older men with low to low normal testosterone levels and did not significantly improve sexual function or health-related quality of life.

"The results of this trial suggest that testosterone should not be used indiscriminately by ," said corresponding author Shalender Bhasin, MD, director of BWH's Research Program in Men's Health: Aging and Metabolism and director of the Boston Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at BWH. "We find that men with low and low normal testosterone are unlikely to derive benefits in terms of sexual function or quality of life, two reasons why men may seek testosterone therapy. And although we find that testosterone did not affect the rate of hardening of the arteries, we need long-term data from large trials to determine testosterone's effects on other major ."

Testosterone, a hormone primarily secreted by the testicles, plays a key role not only in male reproductive tissues but also in muscle growth, bone mass and body hair. As men get older, their naturally decline - on average by 1 percent a year after age 40. Previous studies that have aimed to examine rates of cardiovascular events in men taking testosterone have reported conflicting results but have raised concerns that testosterone therapy might increase a person's risk of a heart attack or stroke. Atherosclerosis, or the buildup of plaque in the arteries, is a critical risk factor for such cardiovascular events.

In the three-year, double-blind TEAAM trial, the research team enrolled more than 300 men over the age of 60 with total testosterone levels between 100-400 ng/dL (low to low normal range) and measured two indicators of atherosclerosis: calcium deposits in the arteries of the heart (coronary artery calcification) and the thickness of inner lining of the carotid arteries that supply blood to the brain (common carotid artery intima-media thickness). To measure secondary outcomes of sexual function and health-related quality of life, the research team had participants also completed a 15-item questionnaire. Participants applied a testosterone or placebo gel daily for three years.

"Our study has important implications for clinical practice, and for older men who are seeking ," said Bhasin. "Many men, as they get older, experience a decline in testosterone and in sexual function and vitality. But our study finds that taking testosterone, when levels are in the low to low normal range, may not improve or quality of life."

The TEAAM trial was designed to examine atherosclerosis progression and not cardiovascular events—further studies will be needed to determine the cardiovascular safety of use in . The research team also notes that comparing patients using statins to those who are not could be another important direction for future studies.

Explore further: Diabetic men with low testosterone run higher risk of developing atherosclerosis

More information: JAMA, doi:10.1001/jama.2015.8881

Related Stories

Diabetic men with low testosterone run higher risk of developing atherosclerosis

October 16, 2014
Men who have low testosterone and Type 2 diabetes face a greater risk of developing atherosclerosis – a condition where plaque builds up in the arteries – than men who have diabetes and normal testosterone levels, according ...

Testosterone therapy fails to treat ejaculatory dysfunction

July 9, 2015
Men who have ejaculatory disorders and low testosterone levels did not experience improved sexual function after undergoing testosterone replacement therapy, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal ...

Normalization of testosterone level after testosterone replacement therapy

August 5, 2015
Patients with low testosterone levels who have then gone on to have testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) could be at lower risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack or stroke, according to research published today ...

New recommendations addresses the diagnosis and management of testosterone deficiency

July 9, 2015
An expert panel convened by the International Society for Sexual Medicine has developed a detailed "Process of Care" for the diagnosis and management of testosterone deficiency in men.

New study finds testosterone replacement therapy does not increase cardiovascular risks

November 18, 2014
An important new study of men who have undergone testosterone replacement therapy has found that taking supplemental testosterone does not increase their risk of experiencing a major adverse cardiac event, such as a heart ...

Study finds that testosterone therapy is not linked with blood clot disorders in veins

July 20, 2015
A new study from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston of more than 30,000 commercially insured men is the first large comparative analysis to show that there is no link between testosterone therapy and blood ...

Recommended for you

Infections could trigger stroke in pregnant women during hospital delivery

April 20, 2018
Pregnant women who have an infection when they enter the hospital for delivery might be at higher risk of having a stroke during their stay, according to new research.

Compound improves stroke outcome by reducing lingering inflammation

April 20, 2018
An experimental compound appears to improve stroke outcome by reducing the destructive inflammation that can continue months after a stroke, scientists report.

Novel antioxidant makes old blood vessels seem young again

April 19, 2018
Older adults who take a novel antioxidant that specifically targets cellular powerhouses, or mitochondria, see age-related vascular changes reverse by the equivalent of 15 to 20 years within six weeks, according to new University ...

Changing how blood pressure is measured will save lives

April 19, 2018
Traditional methods of testing for high-blood pressure are no longer adequate and risk missing vital health signs, which can lead to premature death, a study co-led by UCL has found.

Eyes of adolescents could reveal risk of cardiovascular disease

April 19, 2018
New research has found that poorer well-being or 'health-related quality of life' (HRQoL) in adolescence could be an indicator of future cardiovascular disease risk.

Obesity linked with higher chance of developing rapid, irregular heart rate

April 18, 2018
People with obesity are more likely to develop a rapid and irregular heart rate, called atrial fibrillation, which can lead to stroke, heart failure and other complications, according to Penn State researchers.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.