In a recent study, researchers from University of Michigan find that a man’s total testosterone level may be linked to more than just sexual health and muscle mass preservation.
They found that low amounts of the hormone could be linked to chronic disease, even among men 40 years of age and younger.
Previous research has shown that total testosterone deficiency in men increases with age.
Other studies have shown that testosterone deficiency is also associated with obesity-related chronic diseases.
But it is unknown what the optimal levels of total testosterone should be in men at varying ages, and to what effect those varying levels of the hormone have on disease risk across the lifespan.
In addition, previous studies used clinical cohorts that were not reflective of the current male population in the United States
In the study, the team studied the relationship among testosterone, age, and chronic disease.
They leveraged a population sample that was much more representative of males in the United States today.
Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the research team examined the extent to which hypogonadism is prevalent among men of all ages.
Among the 2,399 men in the survey who were at least 20 years old, 2,161 had complete information on demographics (e.g., age, ethnicity, and household income), chronic disease diagnoses, blood samples obtained for total testosterone, grip strength and lab results for cardiometabolic disease risk factors.
The team then examined the prevalence of nine chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, high triglycerides, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and clinical depression.
They found that low total testosterone was linked to multimorbidity in all age groups—but it was more prevalent among young and older men with testosterone deficiency.
The team suggests a robust association between testosterone and multiple medical morbidities that could influence the way we think about testosterone in general practice.
While these findings cannot prove causation, it does spark the need for better clinical awareness and more research.
The team hopes the study and its results can serve as a public service announcement for men.
Mark Peterson, Ph.D., M.S., FACSM, is the lead author of the study and assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at Michigan Medicine.
One co-author is Aleksandr Belakovskiy, M.D., a resident in family medicine at Michigan Medicine, who helped to design and carry out the study.
The study is published in Scientific Reports.
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