In a recent study from the University of Michigan, researchers found that a man’s total testosterone level may be associated with more than just sexual health and muscle mass preservation.
The research team found that low amounts of the hormone could be linked to chronic diseases. This is even true among men 40 years of age and younger.
Previous studies have shown that low total testosterone levels in men become more common when men get older.
Other studies have found that total testosterone deficiency is also linked to obesity-related chronic diseases.
However, scientists did not know what the optimal levels of total testosterone should be in men at different ages.
And it is unclear what effects those varying levels of the hormone could have on disease risk across a man’s lifespan.
Furthermore, previous studies only used clinical cohorts that were not reflective of the current male population in the United States.
To address all the above issues, in the current study, the researchers examined the relationship between total testosterone levels, age, and chronic diseases.
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, including age, ethnicity and household income.
They also provided chronic disease diagnoses. Their blood samples were obtained for total testosterone. Their 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, high blood pressure, and major depression.
The results showed that low total testosterone levels were linked to multimorbidity in all age groups, but it was more prevalent among young and older men with testosterone deficiency.
The team suggests that there is a robust association between testosterone and multiple medical morbidities.
This finding could influence the way we think about testosterone in general practice.
While results from the current study cannot prove causation, it does spark the need for better clinical awareness and more research in the field.
The team hopes the study and its results can serve as a public service announcement for men’s health.
Mark Peterson, Ph.D., M.S., FACSM, is the lead author of the study and assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Shoaled of Medicine.
One co-author is Aleksandr Belakovskiy, M.D. He is 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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