When you think of testosterone supplements, an image of a twenty- or thirty-something bronzed bodybuilder with neck veins bulging might come to mind. However, men of all ages and lifestyles are now seeking out testosterone supplementation for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, in many cases, the risks far outweigh the benefits.
Testosterone supplements and testosterone boosters are a billion-dollar industry that has increased more than five-fold between the years 2000 and 2011. Users range from young athletes to middle-aged men. Currently, U.S. doctors are writing about 5.3 million prescriptions per year. Men use testosterone boosters for a variety of reasons, from increasing their strength and endurance to building muscle mass or in hopes that it will improve sexual function.
However, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that men who use testosterone supplements could be putting themselves at a higher risk of heart attack, stroke or even death. The study examined 8,000 male vets with low testosterone levels. It compared cardiovascular problems among those who had taken testosterone and those hadn’t. Results showed that testosterone supplement and booster users were 29% more likely to have a heart attack, a stroke or to die after three years of testosterone use. The pronounced difference between the groups was evident even after researchers accounted for age, the presence of heart disease before use, existing blood pressure issues and other factors.
The study results underscore concerns that many doctors and cardiologists already had about testosterone supplementation. Many feel that the growing use of testosterone replacement is cause for concern, as no studies show long-term safety. Consumer advertising campaigns for low-testosterone treatments are causing many men to ask their doctors about it. Some attorneys and medical professionals are calling for the FDA to do large controlled randomized trials and learn once and for all of if testosterone supplementation is safe or not.
Companies who market prescription testosterone are defending their products. They point to studies that show testosterone supplementation protects against metabolic syndrome and early death in men who have low testosterone. Axiron testosterone gel by Lilly and AndroGel by AbbVie are two of the more popular supplements prescribed.
Men who are experiencing very real health effects due to low testosterone may indeed receive health benefits from testosterone supplementation. Conditions such as low libido, decreased strength and flagging energy levels do seem to benefit from testosterone supplementation.
However, men should bear in mind that these symptoms can occur even if testosterone levels are not low. It is crucial that they meet with a doctor to determine if they actually do have low testosterone levels before beginning treatment.
Have you or a family member used testosterone supplements or testosterone boosters that may have caused adverse health effects? Contact Meinhart Smith & Manning PLLC of Louisville, KY to learn more about your legal rights.