Testosterone therapy gaining in popularity

Study says therapy for 'low T' comes with risk

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The number of men taking prescription testosterone over the past decade has sky rocketed.  It promises to do everything from boost your energy to increase your libido, even help get rid of that spare tire around your waist.  But along with it comes warnings.

A recent study found that despite the benefits of testosterone, some men should use it with caution.  The study, along with others, shows prescription testosterone raised the risk of heart attacks in men with a history of heart disease, so it's pretty serious stuff.  

But talk to men who are dealing with symptoms of low testosterone and they'll tell you their quality of life was pretty seriously lacking, until they got their testosterone replacement therapy.

"From the age of 50 on, for the most part, I noticed that my drive wasn't there," explained Bill Lane.

Lane has been active all his life, but when he hit that milestone age of 50, he says he noticed things were changing.

"I noticed a major decline in my sports performance, sleep factor, body fat," he said.
Four years after feeling those symptoms, Lane finally saw Beaches Internist Dr. Anthony Capasso for a blood test.  He said he was shocked to find out he had low testosterone.

"It was quite low for my age," he said.

Lane said he never thought he had low testosterone issue.  However, Capasso says a lot of aging men may be running low on the hormone, but don't know it, even when they have symptoms.

Capasso says those symptoms include, "Fatigue, poor sleep, joint pain, and if they're really low you'll see problems with libido or erectile issues.Oh"

Lane says for him, he had a healthy sex drive before, which added to him being surprised about his low test results.  But now that he's on testosterone therapy, he says he notices a differences.

"Now, better fulfillment," he said. "We're empty nesters. We have our date nights and we enjoy it. It's definitely an improvement, I'll tell you that."

But studies have found that older and middle age men with a history of heart disease have a higher risk of heart attacks when taking prescription testosterone. So, should they be on it at  all?

Capasso is aware of the studies and he takes them seriously.  But he says if he feels it's safe for a particular patient, he will still prescribes testosterone.

"I have a lot of patients who have coronary artery disease who are on hormone replacement. We monitor their lipids and we adjust their medications or supplements to lower their risk for recurrence of disease," Capasso explained.

So may ask, why not age naturally without testosterone therapy?  

"I just don't want to let go," said Lane. "I didn't want to just give in and get old."

As for these studies that show there's an increased risk of heart attack for men who have a history of heart disease, at least one advocacy group, Public Citizen, is calling for the Food and Drug Administration to mention this risk on its label or it's ads. Right now, it's not mentioned it all.