Is testosterone therapy a scam that is about to be perpetrated (or maybe its now being perpetrated) by pharmaceutical companies to further fatten their already thick bank accounts at the expense of men with health concerns? Or is it an effective cure for, to borrow the words of the Daily Mail, “the dismal ailments of midlife malehood”?
We ask because a recent German study suggests that men with low levels of testosterone who received testosterone injections purportedly increased the men’s lean muscles, made them lose weight and shrank their waistlines by four inches from an average of 42in (107cm) to 38½in (98cm), lowered their cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and improved their sex drives.
Now before we all go, “Hallelujah, a miracle treatment for middle-aged men’s health problems have been found!!!!”, let us caution you with the fact that the study was funded by Bayer Pharma which makes testosterone injections and which wants more men to buy their product.
But let’s have more details of the research, shall we? From Health Day:
For the study, the researchers followed 251 obese men aged 38 to 83 with low testosterone levels. Among these men, 214 were followed for two years and 115 were followed for five years.
The men were given 1,000 milligrams of testosterone by injection when the study started, again at six weeks and then every 12 weeks until the end of the trial.
The men who were followed for five years lost an average of 35 pounds. Their average body-mass index — a measurement that takes height and weight into account — dropped from 34 to 29, moving them from the obese category into the overweight category. In addition, they also saw improvements in their cholesterol and triglyceride levels, along with their blood pressure.
Says study lead author Dr Farid Saad on their research: “We came across this by accident. These men were being given testosterone for a hormone deficiency – they had a range of problems – erectile dysfunction, fatigue and lack of energy. When we analysed the data we found that every year, for five years, they had lost weight. It may be that the increased testosterone restored their energy levels and led to a behavioural change of being more physically active.”
Feedback by health experts on the research findings is mixed but mostly skeptical. Check them out below:
Prof Ashley Grossman, endocrinologist from the University of Oxford: “This is interesting, but not absolutely convincing. We cannot say for sure that this is the effect of the drug rather than being involved in such a trial. I will remain sceptical until I see a large scale study in a more robust fashion.”
Sanjay Kinra, obesity expert and researcher at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine: “It is quite possible that a drug that is improving the mood of middle-aged people over a period of time will likely make them a bit more active and help them lose a little bit of weight, but it is a serious drug, testosterone, and it causes serious health effects. As a mass treatment of obesity it (testosterone) is not meaningful because you are not going to trade off your risk of getting prostate cancer or heart disease for a bit of weight loss that is not going to be lifelong anyway, it will only remain for the time that you are on testosterone.”
Dr. Bradley Anawalt, spokesman for The Endocrine Society and chief of medicine at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle: “It [the study’s conclusion] is overly optimistic. There is very little evidence that testosterone should cause weight loss in men obese or otherwise; it usually results in weight gain.
If you were a drug company, the best product in the world would be a drug that causes you to lose weight, increases muscle and strength and improves your sex drive. Before anybody got excited about this, there [would] need to be lot more studies done to reproduce these findings.”