Testosterone Lowers Male Heart Disease Risk

In the last couple of years, studies looking at the correlation between testosterone levels and heart disease in men have yielded mixed results.  However, if you look more closely at the data, most of the reports showing negative associations with testosterone failed to factor in other independent risk factors that can lead to heart disease.  The negative studies also used inaccurate laboratory methods and reference ranges to reach their conclusions, inflating the risks of testosterone.

A late 2011 study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology (JACC) demonstrated that men who had the highest levels of testosterone had a 30% lower risk of cardiovascular events.  Men with increasing levels of testosterone also had a decreased prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, and body fat mass.  One of the main reasons for testosterone’s beneficial effect on heart disease is it’s ability to boost HDL levels, and allow the liver to metabolize excess cholesterol more efficiently.  Testosterone also helps to dilate blood vessels and strengthen the muscles of the heart, further lowering the risk of hypertension, heart attacks, and heart failure.

So, with the link between testosterone and cardiovascular risk becoming more clear, why isn’t testosterone being tested routinely in men over the age of 50?  One of the main arguments has been the concern about inducing prostate cancer in men who are using supplemental testosterone.  However, contrary to popular belief, this fear has no basis.  In fact, in his book Testosterone For Life, Dr. Abraham Morgentaler demonstrated that men with low testosterone levels have an increased percentage of prostate cancer-positive biopsies.

Another factor interfering with more routine testing of testosterone levels is the belief that statin drugs are a cure-all for heart disease.  By only lowering cholesterol and ignoring the benefits of testosterone, as well as ignoring the effects of estrogen, insulin, and other hormones, it’s no wonder that heart attacks and strokes continue to be the leading causes of death in this country!  The fact is, if you’re a male over the age of 50, or you already have a history of heart disease, your doctor is doing you a gross disservice by not including testosterone as part of a routine screening for cardiovascular disease risk.

If you have low testosterone levels, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will need to supplement with testosterone injections or cream.  Your doctor should also look at other hormone levels to determine whether low testosterone levels are related to weight gain, insulin resistance, or lack of exercise, vs. a true deficiency.  Then, the appropriate underlying cause can be addressed, rather than just assuming that supplemental testosterone will correct everything.  Just as cholesterol is an important underlying clue when it comes to heart disease, looking at testosterone can be just as valuable, but we should never assume that one treatment is the answer for everything!