In recent years, anti aging hormone therapy has become one of the newest treatments for patients looking to unveil healthier, younger-looking skin and bodies. However, many medical professionals have speculated that the use of even naturally occurring hormones could have unintended consequences on a person’s overall health — particularly testosterone as it affects cardiovascular health.
Now, a new study reports that not only is there no convincing evidence linking cardiovascular risk with testosterone treatments, but there may be a beneficial relationship between the hormone therapy and cardiovascular health.
Testosterone therapy has been used as a medical treatment for conditions for centuries. To disprove claims of its risk level, a team of researchers from various institutions and fields, including Dr. Abraham Morgentaler of the division of urology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, reviewed literature published between 1940 and 2014. The articles on question focused on testosterone and cardiovascular risks, based on a MEDLINE search, and the research team looked specifically for keywords like “testosterone,” “androgens,” “human,” “males,” “cardiovascular,” “stroke,” “cerebrovascular accident,” “myocardial infarction,” “heart attack,” “death” and “mortality.” As a result, the literature collected included two recent studies, which had raised new concerns about cardiovascular health and testosterone therapy.
According to a review published in Mayo clinic Proceedings, the researchers then evaluated the weight and direction of the data before assigning a level of evidence (LOE). Four articles reportedly pointed to elevated cardiovascular risk; however, the research team stated that two were retrospective analyses with serious limitations, one was a placebo-controlled trial with few major adverse cardiac events, and one was a meta-analysis with questionable studies and events.
In contrast, several dozen articles the team perused described a beneficial effect of normal testosterone levels on cardiovascular risks, such as coronary artery disease and high cholesterol, and mortality. Death and incident coronary artery disease were inversely connected with doses of testosterone, as was the severity of coronary artery disease. Instead, testosterone therapy was associated with reduced obesity, fat mass and waist circumference, as well as improved glycemic control.
Additionally, the researchers found several randomized controlled trials involving men with coronary artery disease or heart failure. These trials reported improved health with testosterone when compared to a placebo, leading to no increased risk of cardiovascular risk and a reduced risk in those with metabolic disease. Moreover, two other retrospective studies showed a reduced mortality rate with testosterone therapy, while two observational studies found twice as many deaths among men with low testosterone who did not receive treatment when compared to those who did.
So far, proponents of hormone therapy have reacted positively to the report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Testosterone therapy has been linked to an increased sex drive, higher energy levels and better bone mineral density, among other benefits. The researchers also say that new data has suggested that the treatment may improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood glucose and glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) levels in men with type 2 diabetes or obesity.
Morgentaler called the report a reason to question studies that make significant claims, but present weak evidence and ignore a vast amount of prior data. However, his report in Mayo Clinic Proceedings contained the disclosure that Morgentaler has various financial ties to a variety of pharmaceutical companies, including AbbVie, Bayer, Clarus Therapeutics, Lipocine, Pfizer and TesoRx. Other researchers also reported relationships with these and other companies.