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Men's Health Channel
Reported January 30, 2004

Testosterone Replacement Therapy Safe

(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- New research shows testosterone replacement therapy does not increase a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer or heart disease.

About 2 million to 4 million men in the United States have low levels of testosterone. Symptoms of the condition may include erectile dysfunction, reduced muscle mass, reduced bone density, depression, and anemia. Testosterone replacement therapy is designed to increase testosterone levels for men with the condition. The therapy may be offered as an injection, patch, gel, or tablet.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reviewed more than 70 studies that examined the safety of testosterone replacement therapy. Results show the therapy was not associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer or cardiovascular disease. Abraham Morgentaler, M.D., from Harvard Medical School, says, “We reviewed decades of research and found no compelling evidence that testosterone replacement therapy increases the incidence of prostate cancer or cardiovascular disease.”

Previous studies have shown extremely low levels of testosterone can shrink prostate cancer that has spread. That’s why some have raised concern over increasing testosterone levels in men who are deficient. However, authors of the current study point out that prostate cancer becomes more prevalent when testosterone levels decline. They found no connection between high testosterone levels and prostate cancer.

Researchers say some people believe testosterone is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease because men, who have higher levels of the hormone, are more likely to have a cardiac event than women. However, researchers say there is little evidence to support this assumption.

Side effects of testosterone replacement therapy include acne, sleep apnea, fluid retention, and infertility. Researchers conclude: “Testosterone is only for men who have symptoms of low testosterone combined with a confirmatory blood test. Testosterone therapy can be beneficial and safe for these men as long as they are appropriately monitored by their physician.”

This article was reported by Ivanhoe.com, who offers Medical Alerts by e-mail every day of the week. To subscribe, go to: /newsalert/.

SOURCE: New England Journal of Medicine, 2004;350:482-492

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