New Testosterone Warnings: Are They Overblown?

   April 9, 2014   

By Nick Tate, Newsmax

Testosterone therapy has been hailed as a medicinal fountain of youth for many men over 50, with a growing body of research showing low-T treatments can significantly boost a man’s energy, memory, and libido.

But new concerns have been raised about potential downsides of hormone therapy. In recent months, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has moved to investigate the risks and benefits of testosterone, prompted by studies suggesting the popular treatments may lead to heart problems in some men who take hormone supplements.

But David Samadi, a leading men’s health authority, tells Newsmax Health some of the warnings are “overblown.” He says low-T therapy is safe and healthy for men — whose levels of testosterone naturally fall as they age — just so long as they work closely with a doctor who can be sure they are getting appropriate amounts.

“Almost every time you turn on the TV or radio, all you hear is all these ads about … how this testosterone therapy is going to add more to your life,” says Dr. Samadi, chairman of urology and chief of robotic surgery at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “And we all have seen the picture[s] of the older man who really looks muscular and we all want to be like him … But we want to be sure that people are very careful about this.”

He believes some of the warnings about testosterone therapy are “completely exaggerated,” but adds that treatments must be tailored to the unique needs of individual patients — because having too much of the male hormone can be as risky to some men as having levels that are too low.

“We see that patients come in that are very tired, they have a loss of libido,” he explains. “They have no interest in any kind of socializing in with other people, they become like a real couch potato; they just want to play with that remote control and not do anything else … And that’s the low-T we see, those are the symptoms of it.”

But Dr. Samadi notes you can get too much of a good thing, when it comes to hormone therapy.

“If you take too much testosterone, that doesn’t make it any better. You add the risk of clotting. You add the risk of heart attack and stroke and many other things,” he says. “So too much testosterone is not necessarily the right answer. That’s why FDA is getting involved; they want to make sure that people are aware of this.”

In addition, some men — particularly those at risk for prostate cancer or who have enlarged prostates — are not good candidates for low-T therapy, which can make things worse.

The key, Dr. Samadi says, is for men to work closely with a doctor who knows the risks and benefits of hormone therapy and can determine, through blood testing, appropriate treatment options. An experienced doctor can also help men determine which formulations of low-T therapy — including injections, patches, or gels — are best.

“So it’s a little tricky,” he says, adding: “Testosterone is not the answer for every man out there. We have to select them carefully, and then it will do the trick.”

Dr. Samadi also notes there are other ways to boost testosterone naturally — through diet, exercise, and managing stress levels. Belly fat, for instance, can lead to low-T. Depression and thyroid problems can also affect hormone levels.

“So guess what: Try to lose weight. And that’s one of the cures for metabolic syndrome, [it can] lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol. So … losing some of that weight automatically will shift up your test.

“The knee-jerk reaction of someone coming in and just get[ting] a shot and leave, thinking that it’s going to take care of everything … It’s really bad medicine.”

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