Advertisements about testosterone supplements often boast helping everything from achy joints to low libido. Some companies even claim taking it can change a man's life. A new study shows it may change their life, but it warns, in a dangerous way.
As we hit the streets of Houston to get a feel of how locals feel about testosterone replacement, we quickly learned that even mentioning low testosterone, then taking a supplement to boost the level, tends to turn up jokes.
"When it's time to go, it's time to go and when you can't do it no more - that's it! ha ha", said one man at Memorial Park.
"I don't use testosterone gel, look at my muscles," laughs another man in his 70s.
A new study shows it's no laughing matter to take testosterone replacement, when it's not necessary.
We met up with Clinical Endocrinologist, Dr. Steven Petak, at Methodist Hospital, for his take on the latest information. It includes a warning to men, who do not have a low enough testosterone level to warrant supplementation. "For those patients, the message of the paper is there is an increased risk for cardiovascular events, namely death, heart attack, and stroke. That needs to be considered when someone is placed on therapy," says Dr. Petak.
Dr. Petak often tests his patient's levels. He believes everyone should undergo a full work-up with a physician, before even considering taking a testosterone supplement. It's all about the timing too. He says get tested early in the morning, when testosterone levels are usually highest. "8:00 am is the best time to get tested, and if you have a low value, repeat it at least twice to confirm it's really there. Other tests that help: FSH, LH, and Prolactin, which test pituitary function to find out if the problem is real or not and if the problem is with the testes or pituitary gland," explains Dr. Petak. He even tests bone density on his patients to confirm "low T" and then monitor the need for testosterone supplements. He's concerned that anyone can buy testosterone gels and creams online or all over Houston without a prescription. "They typically have to be FDA approved! What's available without a prescription - I'm not even sure what's in those preparations. I think there would be concerns of what they're really taking," says Dr. Petak.
We found quite a few guys around Houston who agree, not to take your health into your own hands, without a doctor's approval. Some warnings even mention prostate cancer as an increased risk of testosterone cream. "Look at the label! I'd consult with my own doctor to look at the side effects, if I was going to do something like that. There are so many things that cause cancer these days and you can't be too safe," says a local man.
Dr. Petak suggests any man frustrated over problems ranging from a loss of muscle strength and muscle mass to a low sex drive or moodiness, contact their doctor. He urges men to not diagnose themselves. Researchers in Texas say testosterone therapy has increased more than three-fold in men over 40 in the past decade. Doctors say levels lower than 320 are a medical concern.
For more information, visit http://www.houstonmethodist.org/.