Millions of men take testosterone supplements each year in the U.S. Low testosterone, or “Low T”, can manifest in a variety of symptoms including:
lack of sex drive
loss of strength
decrease muscle strength
loss of fertility
osteoporosis (decrease bone mass)
and may contribute to many other issues.
The most popular forms of testosterone are injections and gels. Pill forms are available but are not as effective.
Testosterone slowly decreases with age at a rate of 1% per year beginning in one’s 30’s. A man with significant testosterone loss, however could signify a more serious health issue such as diabetes. So many physicians don’t hesitate when it comes to supplementing this vital hormone.
However, its not without its risks. Risks of testosterone therapy include:
Increasing risk of prostate size
risk of prostate cancer
polycythemia (increase red blood cell levels)
and multiple studies have found it increases risk of heart attacks and stroke.
Now researchers have found a 63% increase risk of blood clots within the first 6 months of testosterone therapy. These are deadly as they increase risk of heart disease, stroke, pulmonary embolism and organ damage. They form in veins, deep veins, and thus have an obstructed path to reach vital organs and prevent blood flow. This is not the first time venous thromboembolism (VTE) has been linked to testosterone therapy. Back in 2014 the FDA recommended warning labels on testosterone products.
According to researchers at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City state the overall risk is still low, one case per 1000 men a year, but could be of huge concern for those at risk of blood clots. Lead researcher, Dr.Carlos Martinez, states, “Risk peaks rapidly in the first six months of treatment and lasts for about nine months, and fades gradually thereafter.” So a promising finding is the risk falls as time passes since therapy.
Risk factors for VTE include:
prior blood clots
prolonged immobility (long flights, hospitalization stays)
and of course risk increases with age.
Study author Dr. Mark Creager states, “My advice is to review the patient’s underlying risk factors for VTE, and weigh that risk against the potential benefit of testosterone therapy,” Creager said. “These individuals should at least be made aware of the fact that their risk would be even higher with testosterone.”
This study was published online Nov. 30 in the BMJ (British Medical Journal)